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This article has been peer reviewed. It was published in: Journal of Primary Care and Community Health.

Volume 8, Issue 3, 2017, Pages 122-126.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1177/2150131916685199

Copyright © The Author(s) 2017

Creative Commons Non Commercial CC-BY-NC: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (


PURPOSE: We explored differences in changes in medical student empathy in the third year of medical school between volunteers at JeffHOPE, a multisite medical student-run free clinic of Sidney Kimmel Medical College (SKMC), and nonvolunteers.

METHOD: Volunteerism and leadership experience at JeffHOPE were documented for medical students in the Class of 2015 (n = 272) across their medical educations. Students completed the Jefferson Scale of Empathy at the beginning of medical school and at the end of the third year. Students who reported participation in other Jefferson-affiliated clinics (n = 44) were excluded from this study. Complete data were available for 188 SKMC students.

RESULTS: Forty-five percent of students (n = 85) volunteered at JeffHOPE at least once during their medical educations. Fifteen percent of students (n = 48) were selected for leadership positions involving weekly clinic participation. Nonvolunteers demonstrated significant decline in empathy in medical school ( P = 0.009), while those who volunteered at JeffHOPE at least once over the course of their medical educations did not show any significant decline ( P = 0.07).

CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that medical students may benefit from volunteering at student-run free clinics to care for underserved populations throughout medical school.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License

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