Service Learning ProgramsCenter for International Studies
Open to students across all disciplines during school breaks, extracurricular service learning programs offer an intensive and exciting, two-week immersion into a global community’s diverse culture and healthcare system. As part of a faculty-led group, students volunteer alongside local medical professionals to observe different healthcare services in urban hospitals, rural health clinics, schools, and other facilities.
This collaborative shadowing experience enables students to witness firsthand how interprofessional healthcare teams work together to meet the needs of underserved populations in communities with limited access to healthcare resources.
Life-Changing Volunteer Programs
Reflecting on her time spent helping staff in a rural health clinic through the Volunteer Morocco program, Arianna Maida, Premedical Health Studies Physician Assistant Studies Pathway (MPAS), notes that no matter where you practice and what your specialty is, it’s important to learn how to relate to your patients and understand their different lifestyles.
“There’s a story behind every patient, and it’s our responsibility as clinicians to understand the full picture of the patient as a whole person, not just their physical condition,” she says. “My experiences in both Peru and Morocco have prepared me to become a more well-rounded, empathetic, and culturally competent healthcare provider and person.”
Thomas Sapienza, MS Pharmaceutical Chemistry, BS Chemistry, found the Volunteer Morocco program to be both a career- and life-changing experience. Working side by side with Moroccan doctors and other healthcare professionals, he and his team helped provide free health assessments and shadowed surgeons as they made their rounds through the hospitals.
Thomas has always been passionate about chemistry and working in the medical field. After returning home, he changed his major to pursue a master’s degree in chemistry at MCPHS. “In Morocco, I decided that I wanted to be a physician. Having a background in chemistry not only will enhance my résumé for medical school, but also will give me a proper background for research later in my career as a doctor.”
Arianna also returned home inspired and energized. “Despite the physical, environmental, and healthcare differences a culture and community may have, it’s important to remember why we go through years of schooling and service learning experiences,” she says. “We do it to become exceptional healthcare professionals—but more fundamentally, we do it out of a passion to care for others.”