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Office of Community Experience

The Office of Community Experience prepares medical students to address socioeconomic determinants of disease and become community-responsive physicians. Programs integrate meaningful community service and reflective learning.

From courses and seminars to clinics and internships, the Office of Community Experience offers many opportunities for students to get involved.


The College of Medicine requires first-year medical students to take a service-learning course.

During these courses, students spend time in the field at a community site, choosing from a variety of populations and projects. They also meet in small groups to discuss community-responsive medicine and reflect upon their own values and beliefs in regard to community service.

First-Year Courses

The Community Education Experience course provides medical students with an opportunity to learn about the social, economic and cultural factors that impact health and the delivery of health care. Students spend time in the field working with youth, elderly, homeless, immigrants and other socially vulnerable members of our community. They also meet in small groups to discuss community-responsive medicine, and reflect upon their own values and beliefs in regard to community service.

Fourth-Year Course

The fourth-year elective, Providing Health Care for Vulnerable Populations, is a clinical senior elective. Students gain experience working with vulnerable populations at one of several sites:

  • Covenant House (youth homeless shelter)
  • UPenn LIFE (elders)
  • Prevention Point Philadelphia (risk reduction)
  • Health Outreach Project sites (learn more about HOP)

In addition to working with physicians at these sites, students work with attorneys, social workers, teachers, lawyers and other professionals. They also assist in addressing various psycho-social issues pertaining to health.

Interested students should contact Elissa Goldberg ( with at least two months advance notice.

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HOP Clinics

The Health Outreach Project (HOP) offers care to underserved Philadelphians through free health clinics and services run by Drexel medical students.

HOP programs provide opportunities to address obstacles to health care, including language and cultural barriers, lack of insurance, homelessness, and drug and alcohol addiction. They're also a great way for first and second year students to gain clinical exposure.

Clinics and services where our students volunteer include:

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Each year, the Office of Community Experience presents five brown bag discussions relating to the social determinants of health, the social disparities in health care and the social responsibility of physicians to address these issues.

View a schedule of upcoming brown bag discussions.

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Bridging the Gaps

Bridging the Gaps links the training of health and social service professionals with the provision of health-related service to underserved communities. Founded in 1991, Bridging the Gaps is now administered by a five-institution consortium of academic health centers in Philadelphia, including Drexel University, University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, Thomas Jefferson University, and the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

There are three parts to the program:

BTG Community Health Internship Program
A seven-week, paid summer internship for graduate level students in the health disciplines that provides non-clinical heath related services to underserved populations, while incorporating interdisciplinary training on the psychosocial issues affecting health and the delivery of healthcare.

BTG Seminar Series
Eight evening seminars are held throughout the academic year, addressing topics related to population health and care coordination. Dinner is served, and preregistration is required. Seminars are open to health and social service professional students at BTG academic health centers.

BTG Clinical Program
The Clinical Program is an advanced community experience that continues the interdisciplinary approach of the Community Health Internship Program. To be eligible, students must have reached the clinical portion of their training. Students may elect to rotate through one of three Philadelphia program sites: Covenant House, Wissahickon Hospice and Prevention Point Philadelphia.

**Students who complete the BTG-CHIP, attend a minimum of 6 BTG seminars, and complete a Clinical Program rotation will graduate from their school as a Bridging the Gaps Scholar.**

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