Information for Our Community

Whether you are part of our community or are interested in joining us, we welcome you to Washington University School of Medicine.


Community Engagement (concept)

Great info here:

As a community, St. Louis is diverse and family-oriented, with outstanding cultural and recreational amenities that make it an excellent place to live. Like all U.S. cities, the region also faces challenges, and Washington University is determined to be part of the solution to ensure that St. Louis is an ideal place for all people to live, work and learn.

To that end, the faculty, staff and students at Washington University and our medical school have been engaged in the St. Louis community for decades.

Urban planning and community development projects have promoted economic growth and improved the lives of residents in the St. Louis region. Our faculty members, for example, are playing a leading role in Better Together, a project studying the potential benefits – including improvements in public health – of regional cooperation between St. Louis City and St. Louis County.

Faculty, staff and students also are involved in The Northside Regeneration Project, which advocates for urban renewal of St. Louis’ north side.

Washington University faculty also partnered with St. Louis University on a multi-disciplinary project, For the Sake of All, which analyzes the health and well-being of African Americans in St. Louis. The project explores how the unequal distribution of health services in the St. Louis region correlates with education, income, public safety, and neighborhood quality and composition.

In addition, residents and fellows are encouraged to apply to the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Residents and Fellows Diversity Initiative, which awards grants to participants who demonstrate a commitment to cultural diversity and provide service to the community. For example, residents have volunteered at the Gateway Homeless Shelter and created a professional development program.

Furthermore, when events arise in our region – such as unrest in nearby Ferguson, Missouri – the university and School of Medicine act quickly to support the community. For residents of Ferguson that support has included counseling, a food drive, medical supply donations, a job fair and more. The university also invited students, faculty and staff to a series of campus discussions and other forums organized to encourage both reflection and action.

Student Engagement

OT Bridge Program:

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Participation in a host of community service projects nurtures students’ altruistic nature and provides an alternative educational experience. Regardless of whether students eventually become clinicians, scientists or both, Washington University encourages them to be instruments of change in the communities where they live.

Toward that goal, the Washington University Medical Plunge takes first-year medical students through a weeklong crash course in public health, diversity and health-care disparities in St. Louis. The popular program brings students into the underserved communities to understand the environments and struggles that some of our patients face. Initiated several years ago, the program was deemed so valuable it became a requirement starting with the incoming class of 2014.

Students enrolled in all of our academic programs possess a deep passion for improving the human condition, which they express by initiating and operating dozens of organizations dedicated to community service.

University-sponsored, student-run, community-based service activities include:

Biomedical Research Apprenticeship Program (BioMed RAP)
Each summer, 15 talented undergraduate students, particularly those from groups traditionally underrepresented in biology and the biomedical sciences, come to Washington University for 10-week paid summer research internships. The students engage in independent laboratory research projects with dedicated faculty mentors. The program provides a rigorous in-depth research experience to prepare participants for top PhD and MD/PhD programs.

Public Health Interest Group
This student organization advocates for and partners with the St. Louis community to improve health-care outcomes, particularly among its most underserved citizens. The group’s efforts include health screenings, patient navigation, nutrition outreach and public policy discussions.

Saturday Neighborhood Health Clinic
The clinic is run by Washington University medical students and staffed by our physicians. It is dedicated to providing free medical care to the uninsured in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood and surrounding region. More than 90 percent of our medical students volunteer at the clinic each year, making it one of our most successful service-learning projects.

Young Scientist Program
Run by more than 100 graduate and medical students, this program provides high school students from disadvantaged backgrounds hands-on research opportunities and mentorship. The program includes a Summer Focus initiative, which brings St. Louis area high school students to the medical school for eight-week paid summer internships. Each student works directly with two graduate students and a faculty mentor to carry out a research project. As part of the Continuing Mentoring Program, medical and graduate students provide personal and academic mentorship to students in the Young Scientist Program to foster their interest in science-related careers such as medicine, biotechnology or research.

With wholehearted support from the school’s administration and faculty, these groups and others take care into the community, targeting those who need it most. In the process, students quickly learn one of their professions’ most powerful lessons: by serving, one receives far more than one gives.

Service Opportunities: Students & House Staff

Learn about some of the student organizations focused on community outreach and engagement by selecting a program below.