The Impact of Required Participation in a Student-Led Community Outreach Clinic on Perceived Value and Participation

Purpose/Hypothesis : Indiana University physical therapy students organize and run a student-led pro bono clinic as part of a larger medical school outreach initiative. First, 2nd, and 3rd year students engage in patient care, mentorship and inter-professional activities. Initial research findings demonstrated that these experiences provided an opportunity for students to develop clinical competency and value social responsibility. Exposure to these learning opportunities was on a volunteer basis, which represented less than 50% of the class. As a consequence, faculty implemented mandatory participation as part of a first year integrated clinical. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of a required first year student pro bono clinic experience on perceived value and future volunteerism.Number of Subjects : Thirty-eight physical therapy students in their 1st academic year participated. Each student worked at the clinic for 2 hours as part of a required clinical experience.Materials/Methods : A previously validated instrument designed to measure student civic mindedness and perceived educational value was administered prior to and following the student clinic experience. The survey instrument included both Likert scale and open-ended questions. Three researchers independently evaluated open-ended responses for themes.Results : Prior to participation 73% of students indicated they would have likely volunteered. Following this initial participation, 100% of the students indicated they would volunteer again. Furthermore, there was a 69% increase in students who indicated they were Òvery likelyÓ to volunteer again. Civic mindedness measures demonstrated an 11% increase in awareness and sense of responsibility in volunteer service and public purpose. Students indicated a significant increase (10%) in feelings of confidence in their ability to work in a group to address a community need and in their ability to work collaboratively with others (8.6%). Open-ended responses corroborated the Likert scale findings as well as supported our initial study results, which demonstrated consistent responses in the following areas: professional competency and responsibility, civic identity, and philanthropy.Conclusions : Instilling a sense of professional responsibility and civic mindedness can be challenging for physical therapy programs. The student-led pro bono clinic provided an environment that fostered the development of professional and civic oriented responsibility; however, the voluntary nature limited student exposure. Requiring initial participation in the clinic significantly increased the overall number of students who would volunteer in the future. Furthermore, requiring participation did not diminish studentsÕ perceptions of the value of pro bono services and collaborative work, which other research findings have shown to be a consistent theme.Clinical Relevance : Providing opportunities for students to experience the application of professional values could lead to better appreciation and lifelong adaptation of professional and civic engagement.

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  • Control #: 2024599
  • Type: Platform
  • Event/Year: CSM2015
  • Authors: Peter Altenburger, Hilary Nuest, Caitlin Stevenson, Terry Loghmani, Carolyn Ebbens, Kristin E. Norris
  • Keywords: Community Engagement|Social Responsibility|Volunteerism

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