Spirit of Giving Network Members Chosen by FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine to Participate in New Student Learning Services Project
Boca Raton, FL – Eight nonprofits were recently selected to collaborate in a newly implemented community service program designed by Florida Atlantic University’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine. Seven are members of the Spirit of Giving Network, an organization made up of 60 nonprofits in south Palm Beach and North Broward Counties working diligently to improve the lives of children, families and individuals.
In March, the Community Engagement, Advocacy and Service (CEAS) Learning Project sprang to life when members of the college’s faculty met with its first year medical students to explain the program and its goals in detail. The students were then introduced to 17 different nonprofit potential project partners during a fair co-hosted by FAU and the Spirit of Giving Network.
The seven nonprofits selected from the Spirit of Giving Network are: Palm Beach School of Autism, Louis & Anne Green Wellness Center, Tomorrow's Rainbow, Association of Caregiving Youth, Kidsafe Foundation, Twin Palms and Caridad Center. The eighth organization chosen was the Guatemalan-Maya Center, not currently a member of the Spirit of Giving Network. The Co-Directors of the program are Dr. Catherine Myser, Ph.D., Director of Ethics, Social Medicine and Global Health and Associate Professor of Clinical Biomedical Science at the FAU COM, along with Dr. Julie Servoss, M.D., M.P.H., Assistant Dean for Diversity, Student and Cultural Affairs and Assistant Professor of Clinical Biomedical Science at the FAU COM.
The Spirit of Giving Network began informally in 2001, and is supported by Dick and Barbara Schmidt, the very same family and name bestowed on the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine. SOGN was officially formed in 2007, and has since evolved into a leader in the community, which makes the collaboration a perfect fit for the new FAU College of Medicine and Spirit of Giving Network. This serendipitous, yet synergistic partnering of dual Schmidt family funded initiatives only adds to the value the Schmidt Family brings to South Florida in their philanthropic efforts.
According to Dr. Myser, the CEAS community-based participatory research (CBPR) service and learning partnerships advance the school’s core mission as a community-based medical school. “These students will enter our local community and engage those in need as peers and equal partners to humbly learn their cultures, needs, and ideas to tailor more culturally competent support services,” she says. “They will collaborate with each organization and get to know local underserved communities. They will create deeper and enduring connections, enrich their own lives, but more importantly improve the quality of lives of those served by the nonprofits. We want our students to understand the joys of better knowing and serving our community as well as working side-by-side in egalitarian and respectful collaborations with these nonprofit partners.”
The program consists of 63 students divided into eight service groups with eight members. Each member will partner with their selected nonprofit. Students were individually surveyed by Natalie Warren, the Volunteer Program Manager at the Spirit of Giving Network to identify the students’ professional and educational skills and goals, and also their personal likes and passions for a specific demographic such as children, disabled, elderly, or immigrants. On that basis, Warren identified the most appropriate potential nonprofit partners through a submission of proposals the organizations sent to her, vying for admission into the CEAS Fair. Myser and Servoss then matched each student according to their individual top three choices of nonprofits they had met at the CEAS Fair.
“I want these students to stay here in our community for a long time,” said Warren. “We are incredibly excited about what they bring and we want them to grow into the community and become a part of it. My hope is that they stay in South Florida and practice medicine here. I feel confident that after spending three years in the CEAS program, they will become invested and be inspired to be a part our future.”
Myser said the next step for the CEAS CBPR project happens in August, when the students will meet with their nonprofits to brainstorm on what projects they will design and execute. The plan is to implement three-year CEAS CBPR projects with each new class and eventually be able to serve all 60 members of the Spirit of Giving Network and beyond. “This program aligns perfectly with the Schmidt College of Medicine’s core mission of service to our community, and we are proud and honored to facilitate the program.”
Warren added, “This program is an exciting collaboration that will benefit our nonprofits and community for years to come.”
ABOUT SPIRIT OF GIVING NETWORK: The Spirit of Giving Network is a collaborative of community non-profit organizations primarily focused on children and families in South Palm Beach County. More than 60 non-profit organizations work together to strengthen the community, promote civic engagement and identify resources for the county’s most underserved populations. For more information about the Spirit of Giving Network, please visit www.spiritofgivingnetwork.com, Facebook or Twitter (@SOGNetwork).
ABOUT THE CHARLES E. SCHMIDT COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: With the addition of one of America’s newest medical schools at FAU, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine is capitalizing on its existing strengths in basic, applied and translational biomedical research. Researchers in the College are addressing some of the world’s most pressing health challenges including aging, cardiovascular disease and stroke, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration, autoimmune diseases and HIV/AIDS. Housed in a $20 million, 95,000-square-foot facility funded by a gift from the Schmidt Family Foundation and state matching funds, the new medical school welcomed its inaugural class of 64 students in August 2011. The College has developed a new and innovative curriculum, which features early and continuous community-based clinical experiences and problem-based learning with emphasis on small-group and self-directed learning. The curriculum includes a student-centered and patient-focused approach and clinical experiences with local physicians, health departments and hospitals, and a state-of-the-art medical simulation center. A key component of the innovative curriculum is early exposure to patients and the actual practice of medicine. To that end, the College has established relationships with several prominent area hospitals that are serving as sites for clerkships, hospital-based electives and residencies. During clinical trainings, students have the opportunity to work side-by-side with physicians in the diagnosis and treatment of patients, applying knowledge learned from the first two years of study to real-life situations.