Service Learning

Community Engaged Service Learning (CESL); where academic study and community service unite in the spirit of social accountability


CACMS (6.6)

Dalhousie Medicine encourages and supports undergraduate medical education students to participate in service learning activities as an opportunity to gain knowledge of community and patient needs.


Service learning is defined as “A structured learning experience that combines community service with preparation and reflection(CACMS, 2015)

At Dalhousie Medicine, the Community Engaged Service Learning Program (MEDI2612) is offered during the first two years of Undergraduate Medical Education at Dalhousie University. The program integrates community engagement concepts into classroom-based learning (Professional Competencies 1) in first year with an optional community-engaged experience and small project contributionin second year. Students who opt to take part in the program do a minimum of 20 hours in order to complete the service learning experience during the academic year. Students apply for the program and are either matched with community-based not-for-profit organizationswho work with marginalized and underserved populations or develop their own experiences based on existing partnerships. The experience includes preparation, critical reflection assignments and a project deliverable that is relevant and useful for the community partner and thepeople engaged with their organization. The projects are designed in collaboration with community partners and the Service Learning Program.

The goals for the Community Engaged Service Learning Program are to:

  1. Enhance students’ learning by enabling them to practice skills and test classroom knowledge through related service experiences in the community;
  2. Enable students and community partners to engage in experiences that create reciprocal learning opportunities that are informed by the priorities of the people served by the community partner organization;
  3. Create opportunities for students, Faculty, staff and community partners to to contribute to the Faculty of Medicine’s commitment to social accountability and the Faculty’s’ strategic pillar of Serving and Engaging Society;
  4. Assist faculty in their role as facilitators of service learning and in their engagement with the community;
  5. Provide leadership training and scholarly activity to advance service learning in the Faculty of Medicine with our community partner organizations.

On completion of the Community Engaged Service Learning Program, the student will be able to: 

  1. Describe the social determinants of health encountered and develop a critical analysis of how these determinants affected the health of individuals;
    (Professional 1, 4; Community Contributor 1; Skilled Clinician 1c)
  2. Identify the availability of and access to resources for the community or population served by a community organization;
    (Community Contributor 3, 4; Skilled Clinician 1d)
  3. Demonstrate the ability to learn through experience and reflection;
    (Professional 3, 6; Lifelong Learner 3, 6; Skilled Clinician 1c)
  4. Demonstrate the integration of learning in the classroom and community organization context; (Community Contributor 3, Lifelong Learner 3)

Important Dates

Applications close for 2021/2022 on August 20th: Opening for 2022/2023 in March 2022

Orientation (virtual) Mon, September 13, 2021
10:30 – 12:00
Service Learning Experience Proposal Submission Fri, October 16, 2021
Mid-Program Draft Critical Reflection & (Formative) Assessment December 11-18, 2021
Mid-Program Gathering (virtual)

Fri, January 7, 2022
10:30 – 12:00

Final Critical Reflection (Summative) Assessment Tue, May 3, 2022
Final Project Tue, May 3, 2022
Year-End celebration and experience presentations Tue, May 3, 2022
4:00 – 6:00

Additional Information

Service Learning Program Syllabus 2022 - 23

Link to be updated: Service Learning Program Syllabus 2021-22 [PDF 628 KB]

Service Learning Program Manual with FAQs for students & community partners

Link to be updated: Service Learning Program Manual New Partner and student FAQ [PDF 890 KB]

Available Service Learning Program experiences (by campus for 2022 - 23)

Student application form and worksheet 2021 - 22

Student application form and worksheet 2021 [PDF 220 KB]

*NB: This is a static PDF file, please use the fillable Word file version of the application form that can be found in the Med student Brightspace in ProComp 1 in the Service Learning folder.

Service Learning Program Information Session PPT 2022 - 23

Link to be updated: Service Learning Program Information Session PPT [PDF 495 KB]

For more information contact:

Sarah Peddle

Program Manager, Service Learning