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Ana-Maria Dumitru

I applied for the Schwartz fellowship because I wanted to make a difference both at Geisel and in the surrounding community. One of the struggles with medical education is that the fast pace of coursework in the first two years and the transition to a largely clinical experience in the third and fourth years makes it difficult to develop long-term, sustainable volunteer programs. Students come in full of energy and enthusiasm, and they have all kinds of great ideas about ways to help out in the local community, but then in two years they are off to rotations.

What I hope to achieve through the Schwartz fellowship is to create a lasting infrastructure with which to better manage the turnover of leadership between classes and thereby foster an environment more conducive to active volunteering in a meaningful way. Ideally, by the time I graduate, I hope to see every Geisel student participate in some volunteer experience over their first two years, and I want to facilitate this process to maximize the opportunities available and minimize the logistics.

As part of my fellowship, I am working with the Good Neighbor Health Clinic (GNHC) to create more opportunities to get students involved—we are trying to add at least one more student-run clinic and also to have students volunteer at "First Fridays," which will be walk-in hours at GNHC once a month where people can stop by for a mini health screening, such as blood pressure and vision tests, and get connected with the right care for their needs. I am also trying to bring back Geisel Day of Caring, which is going to be April 13, 2013, and will be a day that encourages students, faculty, and staff to come together and volunteer with local service organizations. This is something I really want to become an annual event, so I'm trying to foster relationships with different organizations so that hopefully we can go back and work with them every year.

The way I see it, we're all in medical school because we want to help others, but sometimes the best way to help isn't a prescription or a scientific answer. It's compassionate care, and one of the best ways to provide that kind of care is to practice serving others in a variety of different ways. I think this teaches us what textbooks can't convey.

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Geisel School of Medicine at DartmouthDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical CenterWhite River Junction VAMCNorris Cotton Cancer CenterDartmouth College