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There are many service learning opportunities at IU School of Medicine-South Bend. 

Service-Learning Benefits All: South Bend's Journey

IU School of Medicine South Bend Students

When you think of volunteering, your mind might go straight to the food bank. While food banks will always need volunteers, Unity Gardens, Cultivate Food Rescue, Med Student Panels, and other organizations can be found when looking to get involved in service-learning opportunities around IU School of Medicine-South Bend. Anyone can volunteer in their own time, but it might be hard to know where to start. Claire Harper and Morgan Lain are second-year medical students and Campus Representatives for the IUSM Service-Learning Coalition (SLC) which provides different opportunities for the students of IUSM-South Bend.

When asked how participating in service-learning impacts her educational experience, Claire said, “It’s easy to get bogged down with all the work and really into the books. I like to spend some time outside of that, especially interacting with members of a community I’m not a part of and people who are not like me. So, I think it offers a good perspective for students to get to know people outside of whom they spend every day with at school, and it’s also a good break.”

Service Learning Coalition Group Picture

Working alongside the community surrounding you is an effective way to get involved and engage alongside communities to address social issues. It’s a way to improve the community and share your voice. During the Summer Community Innovation Program (S-CHIP) -- which involved an abundance of community volunteering -- Morgan’s professor, Dr. Joe Kotva, shared a quote that carries over to what service learning is, “Service-learning is the opportunity to learn about what contributes to thriving in wellness outside of the walls of the clinic.”


Summer Community Innovation Program (S-CHIP)

IU School of Medicine-South Bend's S-CHIP program is an 8-week paid summer research program for undergraduate and graduate students. Its goal is to enhance the health and well-being of the South Bend community. During S-CHIP, students participate in service-learning with a predetermined organization for 20 hours a week, attend weekly four-hour didactic lectures, engage in community-based research, and develop pilot proposals that address unmet community needs identified by the various S-CHIP assignments.


Students during unity garden service learning day


Are you looking to get involved in Service Learning?

There are plenty of organizations needing assistance that you may not know about. The South Bend Bike Garage and an Elementary School Med Student Panel are just two ways to become involved.


Bike Garage

Most recently, students have volunteered at the South Bend Bike Garage. The organization receives bike donations from the community that they fix up to sell at an affordable price. They will also teach you how to fix your bike for free when you bring it in. You can even earn a bike for free by volunteering in the garage for six hours! After volunteering, you can pick out a donated bike in need of repair, and they’ll help you get it ready for the road.

The students spent their time getting a tour of the workplace and then split into groups to begin working for a couple of hours. One of the groups learned how to fix bikes while the others tore bikes apart for parts.


Students are the south bend bike garage


Medical Student Panel

Many different plans are being made, but none are as exciting as the medical student panel at local elementary schools. There’s anatomy incorporated into the third grader’s curriculum, which gave Morgan’s wife the idea of a way to help the students understand the material. Medical students volunteered to come into classrooms, present a slideshow, and answer questions. Everyone who volunteered split into pairs at the school and had a slideshow that asked questions ranging from “What do you think a doctor is?” to “What is wellness?” Some rooms had kids check each other’s heartbeats, while others learned to find their pulse. The overall outcome was fantastic; the teachers loved it, and the kids couldn’t stop talking about it. There is even talk of making the service district-wide to educate other schools.

Look out for messages in the campus GroupMe to become involved with upcoming service-learning opportunities!

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Mallory Meyer

Mallory Meyer is an editorial assistant in Medical Student Education. She is attending IUPUI to get her bachelor’s in English, specifically Professional & Public Writing. While this is her first writing job, she hopes to strengthen her skills and ultimately work for a publishing company as a book editor.

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.