The Selectives program at Tufts is great at providing flexibility and support in pursuing student-driven ideas and interests. I chose a self-styled selective, under the mentorship of Dr. McCobb, in order to expand our current community outreach programs to include a site providing veterinary care to homeless pet owners.
It was very rewarding to be able to identify a need in the community and learn how to take the steps to create a solution. I was able to learn how to work with community partners and create/distribute a needs assessment to determine if/what services my project should provide, I learned about the grant proposal writing process, and I was able to network with many faculty members at Tufts and surrounding universities in the community. This selectives option gave me skills that I would not have been able to learn in lecture, such as how to identify and pursue a community partner, and connections I will be able to use throughout my time at Tufts and beyond.
Another very positive experience has been my involvement in a Community Outreach selective. I go to Worcester Housing Authority sites and perform free wellness exams, provide free vaccinations, and am able to refer cases for spay/neuter at the Lerner Clinic and to Tufts at Tech if further care is necessary.
The first and second year curriculum is largely lecture-based, so a chance to essentially get to be a doctor for a patient is extremely refreshing and educational. I am getting much better and more confident at basic skills such as physical exams and injections. We have the valuable experience of hands-on time with patients in small groups: a chance to actually take histories and interact with clients, learn how to handle non-traditional situations, and discover ways to perform medicine on a tight budget.
This selective has allowed me to apply the concepts we are learning in lecture into real life situations, which helps tremendously with my learning and understanding.