Background: Medical schools are in the process of examining their roles in
training and preparing medical students for the changing world of health ca
re. Many institutions are searching for ways to help promote positive relat
ions between medical schools and the communities they serve. A form of expe
riential pedagogy called service learning is one way to accomplish such goa
Description: Tulane University School of Medicine implemented a required 20
hr of service learning for freshman medical students as part of an interdi
sciplinary longitudinal course, Foundations in Medicine.
Evaluation: Community service hours and projects performed were tabulated o
ver 3 years. A qualitative description of student feedback was undertaken.
Conclusion: The program demonstrates that requiring service learning is acc
eptable to students, the medical school, and the community. The results sho
w that required service learning has at least a short-term beneficial impac
t on students.