Make Time for Service Activities

Life in PA school is busy. Perhaps the busiest you’ll ever be. Class 8-5pm Monday –Friday plus several hours of studying once you get home and on weekends leaves little time for much else… I understand the inclination to put service off until your schedule frees up a bit. In fact, that is exactly what I told myself… for the past 3 years. The problem was that “next year” was never any less busy than this year or the year before. I found myself just talking about doing community work, but not actually do it. I would hear about cool projects or fund raising events for diseases going on in the area and think, “Man, that’s so inspirational, but I just don’t have time right now to dedicate to a project like that.”

About a year and a half ago I was shifting at my Google calendar trying to find time to schedule a dental appointment and realized that I couldn’t fit it into my schedule for 6 weeks. 6 weeks! And then it hit me. I’m always going to be busy. Whether its school or work, I will never have an exorbitant amount of free time. So if I want to do community service, I just needed to make the leap and put it on the calendar. I needed to make a commitment.

After dabbling in some service projects here and there, I found The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. The mission of ASF is to develop leaders in service who are dedicated to addressing health needs in underserved communities. To be eligible for a Fellowship position you must be in a graduate program (PA school, nursing school, medical school, music or art school, etc). In other words, you must be in one of the busiest times of you life AND dedicated to service. It’s a perfect match, so applied. I was accepted as one of 25 Boston Fellows and I was thrilled. Other Fellows range from music majors at Berkley to medical students at Harvard to public health majors at Boston University. Each person has their own yearlong project (min. 200 hour commitment) to complete on top of their graduate studies. Its do-able. Over 200 Fellows from Boston have done it in the past. If you are interested in being a leader in service I highly recommend applying for the Fellowship or at least checking out their website.

I now have a network of Fellows with my passions to help motivate me when I feel like I just can’t do it anymore, which is unbelievably valuable. Oh, and did I mention there is a $3,000 stipend?

My Project:
I am addressing a lack of preventive care in Boston at a local high school by establishing free specialty clinics to be facilitated by Northeastern’s Physician Assistant students. These clinics will address the specific health needs of the student population and deliver related educational programming. My ultimate goal is to grow a continuous working relationship between the Edward M. Kennedy Academy and the Northeastern Physician Assistant program so that the adolescents may benefit annually from free preventive health care and education.

Life in general is busy, so if you are waiting for the magical time in your life when you have “more time” for community service- you may never do it. Incorporate service into your life now, while you’re in school. If you can handle it while you are in school, you can definitely handle it later. Get involved in your community. Find something you are passionate about… homelessness, childhood obesity, nutrition, physical fitness, recruiting future PA students from disadvantaged backgrounds, domestic violence… the list could go on forever. Find something that you care about and give some time.

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