Buffalo Community Immersion Program

Students participating in the Buffalo Community Immersion Program with community members.

The Buffalo Community Immersion Program is a voluntary experience for first year medical students that takes place during spring break. It is an in depth community outreach program that exposes students to the communities in which they are learning medicine, their populations, resources, achievements, and problems, and the larger social forces that impinge upon them. It is meant to challenge students to reflect on their role in the community as medical students and as future physicians.

The curriculum emphasizes community and healthcare factors that facilitate and discourage social determinants of health. Days are spent in the community, meeting with community leaders and residents, and visiting neighborhood community services and healthcare clinics. Each day ends with student discussions on the day’s experiences. Students write daily reflections online.

Student evaluations rate The Buffalo Community Immersion Program as one of the most important experiences of the first year. Students report that they were able to discuss people’s attitudes toward doctors and medical care without the hierarchical barriers that occur in medical settings. They learn about neighborhoods and cultures, and they confront their implicit biases.