Conference spotlights community service by Health Science Center students

SAN ANTONIO (April 6, 2010) — Hundreds of students from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio devote thousands of hours to serving their community each year. They have worked in free clinics for the homeless and recovering drug addicts, offered diabetes screenings at local stores and run a summer program that encourages kids to make healthier choices, among many other projects.

Their efforts will be on display Thursday, April 8, at the third annual Community Service Learning Conference, “Best Practices for Putting Ethics into Action.” The conference will begin at 8 a.m. in the Health Science Center auditorium.

The keynote address, “Narrative Medicine & Reflection,” will be delivered at 8:45 a.m. by Craig Irvine, Ph.D., director of education for the Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. Afterward, students will hold a panel discussion on top community service learning projects. Poster presentations from all projects will be on display throughout the conference.

At 6 p.m., students will hold their annual “Night of the Arts” fundraiser, which benefits student-run free clinics at SAMMinistries’ Transitional Living and Learning Center, the Alpha Home substance-abuse treatment program, and the Seton Home residential facility for pregnant and parenting teens. Night of the Arts showcases the creative abilities of the Health Science Center community in visual arts, singing, dance and more. Further information can be found at

The Community Service Learning Conference is organized by the Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics at the UT Health Science Center, which spearheads many of the service learning opportunities available to students. The Center stresses the importance of “ethics in action” in nurturing empathy and humanitarian values in future doctors and health professionals.

The Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics’ efforts in community service learning led to the UT Health Science Center being named to the 2009 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. This distinction from the Corporation for National and Community Service recognizes the role universities play in addressing pressing social problems.

The honor roll covers the prior academic year. In that year, the Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics reports that nearly 600 students spent more than 8,000 hours serving the community.
“We are so proud of the faculty mentors and dedicated students whose efforts have earned us national recognition on the 2009 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll,” said Ruth Berggren, M.D., director of the Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics. “That’s a first for our Health Science Center, and I believe that this honor is a harbinger of good things to come for the communities of San Antonio and South Texas.”

Students have participated in a wide range of service projects. Here are a few examples:
• Two student groups offer diabetes screening and education at HEB and Walmart stores around San Antonio.
• The Healthy Choices for Kids program helps medical, nursing and pre-professional students to design and implement a summer program that teaches adolescents to make healthier choices. The summer program is held in partnership with Good Samaritan Community Services on San Antonio’s West Side.
• The Breastfeeding Education and Support for Teenage Mothers (BEST) program educates pregnant teenagers and teenage mothers at the Seton Home residential facility on the benefits of breastfeeding and helps support those who choose to breastfeed their babies.
• The student-run free clinics at SAMMinistries, Alpha Home and Seton Home give medical students and residents experience in primary care medicine and public health while providing free, compassionate health care to vulnerable populations.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 2 percent of all U.S. institutions receiving federal funding. Research and other sponsored program activity totaled a record $259 million in fiscal year 2009. The university’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced 27,000 graduates. The $753 million operating budget supports six campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways “We make lives better®,”

Share This Article!