An overview of infusing service-learning in medical education

Trae Stewart and Zane Wubbena

Department of Counseling, Leadership, Adult Education & School Psychology, Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas, USA

Submitted: 22/01/2014; Accepted: 28/06/2014; Published: 04/08/2014

Int J Med Educ. 2014; 5:147-156; doi: 10.5116/ijme.53ae.c907

© 2014 Trae Stewart & Zane Wubbena. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use of work provided the original work is properly cited.

Objectives: To identify and review existing empirical research about service-learning and medical education and then to develop a framework for infusing service-learning in Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine curricula.

Methods: We selected literature on service-learning and medical education. Articles were screened with a protocol for inclusion or exclusion at two separate stages. At stage one, articles were screened according to their titles, abstracts, and keywords. The second stage involved a full-text review. Finally, a thematic analysis using focused and selective coding was conducted.

Results: Eighteen studies were analyzed spanning the years 1998 to 2012. The results from our analysis informed the development of a four-stage service-learning framework: 1) planning and preparation, 2) action, 3) reflection and demonstration, and 4) assessment and celebration.

Conclusions: The presented service-learning framework can be used to develop curricula for the infusion of service-learning in medical school. Service-learning curricula in medical education have the potential to provide myriad benefits to faculty, students, community members, and university-community partnerships.