Health Care Changemakers


Health Care Changemakers is a program that allows students to get academic credit for real-world experiences  in health care that contribute to the Common Good.


Many groups -- including people of color and low-income individuals -- are at disproportionate risk of being uninsured, lacking access to care, and experiencing worse health outcomes. Health care disparities exist in our local community and across the globe.


St. Thomas students are often eager to get experience in health care and would like to contribute to the Common Good. At the same time, experience in health care is useful for honing career interests and is often an evaluation criteria used by medical, dental, and other health profession schools. Health Care Changemakers is a win-win – it helps students get academic credit for working or volunteering in health care, and encourages them to work to reduce health care disparities.

How to be accepted as a Health Care Changemaker

  1. Students find a work or volunteer opportunity in health care that would allow them to contribute to underserved populations. The opportunity can be local or in some distant location. The experience can be paid or unpaid.
  2. Students then submit copies of their proposals to both the Biology Department (OWS 390) and the Social Innovation Collaboratory (AQU 311) before the end of the semester before the one in which they intend to do their Health Care Changemaker experience. The proposal should include:
    1. A description of your proposed experience -- Please include the organization you will be working with, the location of your work, the nature of what you will be doing, and the expected commitment you will make to this experience.
    2. A description of how your work will contribute to the Common Good -- Please clearly explain how your activities and the activities of your partner organization contribute to the health care of underserved populations; this description will be important in determining whether your proposal qualifies for the Health Care Changemaker experience.
    3. A letter of support from your partner organization -- This letter must indicate a willingness to support your activities.

Students are strongly encouraged to consult with the Social Innovation Collaboratory staff before submitting a proposal. 

  1. If the proposal is approved, students will be instructed to complete and submit an experiential learning form (with the appropriate signatures) to the Registrar’s office.

The experience

Students will initially meet with a faculty advisor to discuss the concept of changemaking and to learn about some of the opportunities and challenges in the health care system. Then students engage in either 100 hours of work (for 2 credits) or 200 hours of work (for 4 credits) with their partner organization. After the hours are completed, students will write a high-quality, reflection paper in which they will examine opportunities for change in the system. They will also be asked to create a social media story (video or blog) about the problem they studied – this work will be done in collaboration with the Social Innovation Collaboratory staff.

Students who successfully complete the program will earn Biology major elective credit. Our goal is to highlight experiences to provide students with content for their resumes and personal statements.

For more information, see our FAQs page.