This project began as part of a COVID-19 pandemic service learning elective opportunity for University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) 3rd and 4th year medical students. As the need across the state has grown, student leaders from the School of Medicine have partnered with the Office of Interprofessional Education and Practice to form The Carolina COVID-19 Student Service Corps (CSSC). Students in all health professional schools - medical students, nursing, pharmacy, social work, dentistry, public health, and allied health - are participating. Understanding that this pandemic has highlighted complex problems within the nation’s health systems, Carolina CSSC utilizes the diverse skillsets of interprofessional students and faculty members to address the local needs of health systems and communities across North Carolina (NC). The Carolina CSSC allows interprofessional teams of students to engage in a service-learning model that promotes social distancing and health systems capacity building. This model has now been shared with the North Carolina Area Health Education Center (NC AHEC) in order to partner with other health professional schools across NC. The Carolina CSSC is built upon the work of Columbia University’s COVID-19 Student Service Corp. The implementation of this organization is in partnership with many stakeholders across UNC-CH, including the Carolina Center for Public Service, UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine Office of Rural Initiatives, UNC Rural, and North Carolina Area Health Education Centers (AHEC).
The mission of this student led-faculty supported program is to support health systems, patients, healthcare workforce, and communities facing the COVID-19 pandemic through student-based, service-learning projects.
The goals are:
- To create a centralized organizational structure at UNC-CH that facilitates coordination across various academic and healthcare sectors to mitigate challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- To identify service-learning activities across the state that address various healthcare and community needs generated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- To increase the capability and capacity of UNC-CH to connect students with community partners in an effort to address various needs within NC communities.
The guiding principles are:
- Needs are identified by the healthcare system and brought to the Carolina CSSC Approval Committee to deploy students to address the need.
- Utilize a service-learning model in which students learn, reflect, and grow in their professional and personal identities while serving their communities.
- When possible and appropriate, the collaboration is interprofessional from the outset to promote students learning, with, from, and about each other through their service.
- Every point of leadership requires a strong connection between students and faculty, so students can meet the needs of the healthcare system and communities with appropriate oversight and supervision.
- Opportunities for students to volunteer prioritize options that facilitate social distancing.
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