RCSIP Overview

The Rush Community Service Initiatives Program (RCSIP) was established in 1991 to create a thriving network of community service programs that match Rush Medical College student interest and initiative with the social and healthcare needs of the Chicago population. Students have the opportunity to participate in clinical and non-clinical community service programs that are administered through the RCSIP office and overseen by Rush physicians.

The mission of RCSIP is to:

(1) Assess the need for potential services in the Chicago community that could benefit from the voluntary assistance of Rush students,

(2) Match these services with the students' desire to be part of an active community service experience,

(3) Coordinate these activities to the mutual benefit of all, and

(4) Evaluate the effects of community service experiences on the personal learning and development of the students. 

RCSIP Activities

Student participation in RCSIP is strictly voluntary and students to not receive academic credit for their involvement. They do, however, receive valuable experience through collaborating with community representatives and working closely with Rush Medical College faculty, fellow students and agency staff. Over 80 percent of Rush Medical College students volunteer in one or more RCSIP activities. Although no credit is assigned, electives, research fellowships, and faculty assistance with student projects are offered to qualified participants. Leadership opportunities are also available in the clinical programs. Interested first year students may apply to join the steering committee of any of the three existing clinics. Furthermore, opportunities exist for students to establish entirely new programs or to develop special projects in conjunction with ongoing programs.

It is hoped that the RCSIP programs address the true healthcare needs of Chicago’s underserved communities, while simultaneously offering Rush Medical College students a valuable educational opportunity. The programs allow the students to use the knowledge gained in the lecture hall and apply it to real life settings. By participating in RCSIP, medical students are exposed to the challenges of serving disadvantaged populations as well as to community health, social and behavioral medicine, and primary care. Exposing the students to such diverse populations and settings will hopefully help make the students more culturally competent as providers, which will serve them well as future physicians.

The programs briefly described below are taking place during the 2003-2004 academic year.

Clinical Programs:

  • Community Health Clinic: Students and physicians help staff the clinic and provide a wide range of healthcare services to members of the community without medical insurance.
  • The Clinic at Franciscan House of Mary & Joseph: Staffed exclusively by Rush students and physicians, the clinic serves the residents of the largest overnight homeless shelter in Chicago; it is the main source of medical care for many residents.
  • Pilsen Homeless Health Services: Under the direct supervision of a Rush physician, students take patient histories, provide diagnoses and administer medication to members of the Pilsen community.
  • Rush Interdisciplinary Student Community Service Project: Students from across Rush University (Medicine, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Nutrition, HSM, Audiology) work together to conduct monthly health-related events at Webster Elementary School.

Non-Clinical Programs:

  • Buddies Program: Student volunteers act as mentors, advocates or friends to chronically ill children.
  • Casa Juan Diego Tutoring Program: Rush students tutor and work with Latino children on academic and recreational activities.
  • Health Educators/ASAP: Student volunteers visit elementary and middle schools in nearby Chicago neighborhoods to teach kids the basics of sexual/reproductive health, nutrition, hygiene, violence, and substance abuse.
  • Henry Horner Tutoring Program: Rush students provide tutoring for children who attend the Major Adams Academy and live in the Henry Horner Homes.
  • MammoVan: Rush students travel to sites visited by the Cook County Hospital Mammogram Van, a mobile mammography department that travels within Cook County, where the students answer basic questions regarding breast cancer, menopause and general women's health issues.
  • Marah's Place Health Education Program: Students prepare and present health education seminars on various health-related topics to the women who utilize the shelter's services.
  • Pediatric AIDS-Big Sib Program: In conjunction with Children's Memorial Hospital, Rush students are matched as big brothers/sisters with children affected by HIV.
  • Youth Link (Listening and Imparting Needed Knowledge): A student-led clinic located at Cook County Hospital's Ambulatory Screening Center that provides sexual health education, HIV and STD pre-testing counseling to Chicago’s West Side adolescent population.

RCSIP Office

The RCSIP office is supported by Rush Medical College's Office of Medical Student Programs and the Department of Preventive Medicine. Dr. Paul Jones, M.D., Assistant Dean, Student Services provides oversight of RCSIP and Charlotte Jonsson, Assistant Director, RCSIP is responsible for the day-to-day operations. RCSIP faculty and staff provide the organizational and administrative support that facilitates Rush Medical College students' participation, helping students make connections, developing protocols, coordinating services with community agencies and providing program continuity as students progress in their medical careers.