In 2015, the Tisch College and Tufts University School of Medicine Community Service Learning Program received a generous gift from Harold Seifer, M.D., M52, M85P and Gerda Seifer, M85P. This gift supported the creation of two new initiatives that recognize the important role of service-learning in medical education today: the Community Service Learning (CSL) Faculty Mini-Grant Program and the Tisch College and Tufts University School of Medicine CSL Faculty Award. Together, these programs aim to engage and recognize faculty as they work to engage students in community-based learning.
The Mini-Grant Program helps faculty kick-start projects and move them to implementation. Funding is available for three "seed" projects that have the potential to show impact on an eighteen month cycle. This year's winner of the grant was the Passamaquoddy Pipeline Program, which is run by faculty members Jo Ellen Linder, M.D.; Christina Holt, M.D., MPH; and Tania Strout, R.N., Ph.D. in partnership with the Pleasant Point Passmaquoddy Tribe in an area called Sipayik in Northern Maine. The program gives students a unique opportunity to learn about Native American health by working directly with health advocates on outreach, health fairs, and engaging high school students in the health sciences. The grant helps cover the transportation, lodging, and materials to the Passamaquoddy reservation.
The Tisch College-TUSM Faculty Award honors faculty members who show exemplary leadership in incorporating service learning into their teaching. "This is really an award about teaching and using the tools of service-learning as an essential part of pedagogy," says Jennifer Greer Morrissey, MEd, the CSL coordinator. This year's winner of the Faculty Award was Dr. Shirley González, a pediatrician at Newton Pediatrics. She founded TEEEN® (Teens Empowerment, Exercise, Education, Nutrition), a program designed in response to the needs of her patients and to addressing the national challenge of pediatric obesity. Through this program, Dr. González both empowers the lives of young children and mentors medical students.
The Community Service Learning Program hopes that these exciting new programs will highlight the central role of faculty in service learning and encourage more faculty members to get involved, which in turn will allow more students to have these transformational experiences during their medical training and incorporate service into their careers.