My Year as an AmeriCorps Member | Purely Positivitea

My Year as an AmeriCorps Member


Since my gap year post, I've been getting a lot of requests to share more about my AmeriCorps experience. I hope this helps! 

Program Overview
AmeriCorps has many programs across the country focusing on a variety of areas of service. I was in a Community HealthCorps, which focuses on health care in underserved populations. The program I did was with a large Federally Qualified Community Health Center (FQHC). The organization has 5 health centers throughout the county and 6 School Based Health Centers. 

The centers serve a large population of medically underserved individuals and families. The health care provided is comprehensive and follows a patient centered care and "medical home" model. (for more information on the patient centered medical home click here) For example, at a single location, there were areas for family physician visits, dental visits, women's health visits, WIC, Wellness, and behavioral health integration specialists (social workers and mental health counselors) all under one roof to ensure patients are having their needs met. There is also a dental van that visits schools and the school based health centers are fully equipped/staffed by a nurse practitioners (this way, parents, who usually day labor or have hourly jobs don't have to leave work and kids don't have to leave school for their medical needs). AmeriCorps members are in different departments, including WIC, Wellness, Insurance Outreach & Enrollment, and School Based Health. I was in School Based Health.

Logistics
For this program, you commit to an 11 month term of service for a total of 1,700 hours in this program. A stipend of ~$12,580 for the year is broken down and disbursed on a biweekly basis to aid with living costs (housing is not provided). At the end of the term, you receive an education award of ~$5,000 to apply to previous or future school loans!

Day to Day
As I mentioned, I was a part of the School Based Health Centers (SBHC)! You're probably wondering what an SBHC is. Basically, it is a medical office located in the school that offers all of the services a doctor's office would. It is staffed by a nurse practitioner and medical assistants, and fully equipped for things like physicals, labs, and more. This way, students can have their medical needs met without missing classes and parents also don't need to miss work. It's a really amazing program for the whole community.

My primary duty as an AmeriCorps member is this department was health education. There was a school district wide after school program, and we would teach the same set of students each week about different monthly health topics. These topics included heart healthy eating, alcohol and drug awareness, stress management, and dental hygeine, just to name a few. We based our lessons on the Health Smart evidence based curriculum and created engaging, fun material to get the kids involved and interested in taking control of their health. It was very reawrding because the students got really into it and looked forward to having us each week. They also told us their success stories on how they got their families to switch from white rice to brown rice or how they tried a healthy recipe we made in class at home. It was great and I really miss them!

Aside from teaching after school, we also ran an after school program called Future Health Care Leaders for high school students. The club provided those interested in pursuing a health career with exposure to different careers and connections to professionals in the field. It was definitely the kind of club I wish I had available to me when I was in high school. We also did a number of special projects including hand washing lessons, dental assemblies open airways for asthma classes, and red ribbon week in the schools.

On Fridays, we got together with the rest of the AmeriCorps wide projects for "team fridays" where we ould do other community service projects with high risk populations including veterans, foster children, homeless, and children at risk for obesity.

I know that's a lot of information, but the main things in my weekly schedule looked a little something like this:

Final Thoughts 
Like I mentioned in my "To Gap Year or Not to Gap Year?" post, I had the time of my life in AmeriCorps and I am so happy that I chose to do it for my gap year. Now that I am in medical school, I definitely miss my students and my coworkers, but the lessons they taught me and the memories we share will always stay with me. If you have any questions about AmeriCorps or other gap year options, leave a comment or send me an email! 




7 comments :

  1. How to apply for AmeriCorps program?

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    1. You can apply at https://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps!

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  2. So I just read this and it sounds like something I'd love! It says they provide over $12,000 biweekly- was that a typo? That's a lot of money! Lol

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    1. Oh noooo, definitely a typo! It's 12,000 for the whole year and it is broken down into biweekly payments lol I'm fixing it now!

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  3. I'm very interested in this.. how to apply?

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    1. The website with program info and application is https://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps!

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