Three years ago, the DPT program instituted a service learning requirement. Service learning combines service hours with a reflective component of journaling. Students complete 20 hours of service work, with at least 10 hours of professional service, and 10 hours of personal service. At least five of those hours must have an element of diversity: working with people of a different culture, ethnic background, or socio-economic level.
In the last three years, students have participated in over 2,000 hours of service. Personal service hours have included Habitat for Humanity, leadership for worship service, Up with Families, Café on Vine (feeding the homeless), and mission trips. Professional service hours have included blood pressure screenings, Wheels for the World, and leadership in the Student Physical Therapy Association.
Students have viewed this experience very positively. One student noted, "The service learning requirement is a great thing. I have always wanted to volunteer, but it was easy to get busy and wrapped up in school that, without it being required, I would not have made the time for volunteering."
Other students called it rejuvenating and found it was good practice for taking the initiative to find or create service opportunities in the community. Many students stepped out of their comfort zones in working with diverse populations. One student worked with homeless veterans and said, "I was a little intimidated at first. I quickly learned that this intimidation is more like ignorance because I know very little about the population and chose to avoid it. I will never be scared or worried to help this population again."
This is just one example of how the service learning requirement helps to fulfill the mission of St. Ambrose University by enabling students to enrich their own lives as well as the lives of others.