San Juan Bautista School of Medicine (SJBSM) is a community-based Institution that has pledged to prepared physicians, nurses, and public health professionals with keen community awareness. The SJBSM, through the Community Medicine Program (CMP), provides community service opportunities for our students, faculty, and staff. The program’s objective is to expose students, students, faculty, and staff to the community’s dynamics, allowing an experience to provide health care and education in the communities while focusing our response to the health needs of underserved and medically vulnerable populations.

The CMP collaborates in ensuring that community engagement is integrated into the curriculum, in research, and voluntary services in the community. One of its primary responsibilities is to establish collaborative agreements with community-based organizations and community primary care practices focused on underserved populations. These agreements provide student, faculty, and staff meaningful learning experiences by connecting with an organization to address a need identified as useful by the community.

The SJBSM effort within the community helps to improve the health of people in need with an emphasis on health protection, disease prevention, and health promotion. Although SJBSM is in the east-central region of Puerto Rico, our community service focuses on the health of populations or groups such as children, adolescents, disabled, homeless and elders, from all over the island, including Vieques.



The SJBSM distinguishes itself by providing a strong education focused on developing and integrating students’ skills and competencies in community-based practice. The academic service learning at SJBSM is an essential and stimulating aspect of student education and training at all levels. Academic service learning consists of structured learning experiences that actively engage students, faculty, and community members in a dynamic partnership that connects community-identified concerns with institutional learning objectives. Each formal learning experience has a community partner and includes an orientation, service experience, and post-experience reflection component.

In the Medicine Degree Program, courses of Community Health I and II expose students to service learning activities. All students participate in a selected service learning activity as part of the student’s evaluation.  Students from the Master In Public Healt Program are required to complete an Apply Practice Experience, an opportunity to integrate and apply knowledge and skills from coursework into a practical setting to strengthen public health competencies and work within a community-based setting. Students from the Bachelor in Science of Nursing are required to complete at least 12 hours of community service per semester.

Students in all three academic programs also have the opportunity to address health-related problems at the community level through participation in research projects. The medicine program has a Summer Research Internship and courses such as Introduction to Research, Clinical Research, and Research Clerkship. The MPH Program students are required to complete an Integrative Learning Experience through a team-based research project. The BSN program has the NUR 301 Ways of Knowing: Nursing Research and a voluntary research program that allows students to experience hands-on research training.

Additionally, the SJBSM promotes the integration of the three academic programs through multiple inter-professional activities (research collaborations, community services, case discussions, and systems-based problem analysis), allowing students to explore the art and science of teamwork and communication skills, ethical issues, health care disparities, patient safety, cultural competency, social determinants of health, and psychosocial issues related to patient care.



In addition to the Academic Service Learning, SJBSM encourages students to participate in voluntary community service activities through student organizations. All the voluntary activities are open to the SJBSM community to enable students, faculty, and staff to acquire life skills and knowledge, as well as provide a service to those who need it most. 

The CMP receives multiple requests for community service through email, phone call, or referral from teachers, social workers, students, community leaders, among others, through the Community Liaison Officer (CLO). The person requesting community service is interviewed by the CLO to evaluate the needs of the specific population and plan a community-based intervention. Knowing the people to be impacted is essential for the success of community service in that the community service offered met the requested needs for the community. At the end of each community service, findings, and needs are discussed with community leaders or representatives to plan future actions to address them. The SJBSM has 27 active groups of students organized according to their interests. These groups are critical leaders in organizing and implementing the activities offered by the CMP to the community.


Prof. Grisel Burgos Barreto
Community Liaison Officer
(787)743-3038 Ext. 261
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