Objective: To assess the impact of two programs at the University of Pittsburgh, one that requires and one that encourages volunteer activity. In the program that requires primary care interns to spend 15 hours in a homeless clinic, we measured volunteer service after the requirement was fulfilled. In the program that encourages and provides the structure for first- and second-year medical students to volunteer, we assessed correlates of volunteering.
Measurements and main results: When primary care interns were required to spend time at homeless clinics, all (13/13) volunteered to work at the same clinic in subsequent years. Categorical interns without this requirement were less likely to volunteer (24/51; chi2 = 12.7, p >. 001). Medical students who volunteered were more likely to be first-year students, have previously volunteered in a similar setting, have positive attitudes toward caring for indigent patients, and have fewer factors that discouraged them from volunteering (p <. 01 for all) than students who did not volunteer.
Conclusions: Volunteering with underserved communities during medical school and residency is influenced by previous experiences and, among medical students, year in school. Medical schools and residency programs have the opportunity to promote volunteerism and social responsibility through mentoring and curricular initiatives.