Service Learning Opportunities

Service Learning in Health Sciences:

Bringing together classroom learning and practical experience

Students in the Health Sciences have the opportunity gain real world experience before graduating from Indiana University South Bend through enrollment in HSC-A291/A491: Service Learning in Health Sciences.  Typically, this takes place in junior or senior year, but can be at any point in a student’s college career.  This internship-like course is designed to encourage students to gain relevant experience in the field while also reflecting on how their experience mutually benefits the greater community and the community site.  In this course, students can expect to:

  • Explore a potential career field
  • Develop career related skills and abilities
  • Expand existing knowledge
  • Integrate classroom theory with real-life experiences
  • Experience and develop professional skills
  • Improve marketability upon graduation

Bashor LogoCharmel Spain knew she wanted to support healthy lifestyles for youth in the area. She connected with her professors and gained an opportunity at Bashor Children’s Home where she learned alongside professionals and made a difference in the field.”

Typically, junior year is a good time to complete an internship-like experience; although, students should refer to their degree map requirements, iGPS, and consultations with professional advisors to determine the best fit. 

The planning and establishment of a course like this takes time, persistence, and patience!  Students should connect with Dr. Jenny Deranek one semester before taking the course.  According to the Vera Z. Dwyer College of Health Sciences policies, all sites need to have an established affiliation agreement through Indiana University General Counsel and the establishment of these agreements can take upwards of three months.

It’s never to early to be making connections and planting the seed for potential locations and experiences!

To fulfill the policy requirements of the Vera Z. Dwyer College of Health Sciences, students enrolling in Service Learning in Health Sciences will be required to show completion of the following: 

  • Current CPR Certification
    • American Heart Association CPR Certification will be completed at the student’s expense and at a time that is convenient to them. Please contact the Health and Wellness Center for certification training information.
  • Background Check
    • Background checks will be completed through the IU system and will be at the student’s expense. The cost of a background check starts at $18 and increases based on a student’s location history.
  • HIPPA Training
    • HIPPA training will be completed through the Indiana University system and there is no expense to the student.
  • Blood Borne Pathogen Training
    • Blood Borne Pathogen Training will be completed on Canvas and there is no expense to the student.
  • Course Terms Agreement
      • An agreement will be established between the student, the community-site supervisor, and the instructor of the course. This agreement outlines the duties, responsibilities, and policies of the service learning experience.
      • A training to raise awareness of COVID-19 and provide information and guidance on protecting yourself and others.
  • Requirement to Disclose
      • An annual disclosure form must be completed by students entering into Service Learning which provides an opportunity for student’s to be eligible for community-site placement.
  • Community sites may have additional requirements that students must meet in order to be eligible for the experience.

The amount of time a student spends with a community partner depends on the number of enrolled credit hours.  Students will participate in a minimum of 40 hours (1 credit), 80 hours (2 credits), 120 hours (3 credits), 160 (4 credits), 200 (5 credits), 240 (6 credits). 

Students enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences program are required to fulfill 3 credit hours (120 hours) of Service Learning in Health Sciences.  This can be done in one or several semesters.  Students can also enroll in 3 additional credit hours to use an internship-like experience in place of an elective course. 

It is likely that the implementation of a community-based course will require students to adjust work/life schedules to accommodate the additional out-of-class experiences.  A student enrolled in 3 credit hours of Service Learning in Health Sciences should expect to invest about 10 hours each week with a community site, although appropriate hours will vary based on each community site.  Students will work with the community partner to determine a schedule that fits the needs of the organization and the student.

Before you decide what type of experience you seek, it is important to have an idea of your career interests and goals. If you are unsure about where to begin, the Office of Career Services is a great place to begin. Then, when you are ready, start by asking yourself these questions:

  • What type of work do you see yourself doing?
  • How do you want to spend your average work day one year from now? Five years from now?
  • Do you want to work alone or in a group?
  • Are you interested in working for profit or non-profit organizations?
  • Do you prefer to work with children, adolescents, adults, or the elderly?
  • Are there requirements you need to meet for graduate school admission?

Students are responsible for finding their own site and need to work with Dr. Deranek for approval of the site.  This process is often stressful for students, but you can do it!  Here are some tips to make this step successful:

  • Ask professors for recommendations
  • Connect with your circle of peers – family members, friends, employers and ask if they have any recommendations
  • Review internet listings such as Indeed, GlassDoor, Monster, LinkedIn, hospital employment sites.
  • Review a list of locations developed by Health Sciences. Please note, this is not an all inclusive list as information on sites changes frequently.
  • Connect with IU South Bend Career Services Center 

Once you have identified a few potential organizations, it is important for you to reflect back on your career interests and goals to ensure the experience is helping you grow and not just fulfilling a degree requirement. 

The next step is to contact the organization/individual in a professional manner and the mode of communication is based on the information you collected.  Remember that your first outreach to an organization/individual is their first impression of you!  Be professional, be personal, and be informative.

  • Phone number: You should call the number and leave a detailed message if the person(s) do not answer. The message should include: your first and last name, phone number, purpose for calling: inquiry for an internship experience, and the best times to connect.  Phone calls take vulnerability sometimes!  Speak slowly, clearly, and ensure good cell service.  You should not text unless the person has first initiated a text conversation.
  • Email address: You should draft a professional email to the person. The email should include: a detailed subject line, the person’s name (always use formal terms like Ms., Mr., Dr., etc.), the purpose of the email: inquiry for an internship experience, your phone number, the best times to connect, and should always be signed by your name.  Please email Dr. Deranek ( if you would like any emails to be proof-read before sending.

Students generally do not have much luck completing generic contact forms on company websites when trying to find a community site.  It is recommended that you connect with someone on the phone and ask who would be the best person to connect with.  Sometimes it takes a little while for organizations to write back, it’s important to be patient!

  • Students are not eligible for the Engage IU South Bend Internship Stipends due to the course being a required component of Health Sciences.  If students are taking the course as additional credit hours/electives (beyond 3 credit hours), they would be eligible to apply for the stipend.  Please review this site for additional information. 

Once you are ready to connect with the instructor of the course about the conversations you have been having or potential locations, please complete this form.

If there are any questions, please direct them to your academic advisor or Dr. Jenny Deranek.

Robin Vida“As an Indiana University alumna, I find great pride in supporting the growth of students in the Health Sciences program.  As the Director of the Health Outreach, Promotion, and Education with the St. Joseph County Department of Health, we are able to provide students with real-life experience and connection in health promotion, education, and awareness and really show students the real-life needs of our local community.”

~Robin Vida, Director of Health Outreach, Promotion & Education, St. Joseph County Department of Health