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Become a Family-centered Experience (FCE) program volunteer

Qualifications for volunteers
Volunteers and their families are invaluable resources for medical students and their education. We are recruiting volunteers that meet the following qualifications:

  • Have or care for an individual with a chronic medical condition or disability that significantly impacts their daily life, such as, diabetes, COPD/asthma, multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia. This is not a complete list as chronic conditions vary greatly.
  • Commitment to mentor students for at least two years
  • Allow students to conduct visits at home
  • Openly share stories about the illness and daily life
  • Require regular physician visits for treatment of illness
  • Live within 25 – 30 miles of a regional hub city – Scranton, PA and Wilkes-Barre, PA

Steps to become an FCE volunteer

  1. Complete and submit the FCE application.
  2. Print, sign and mail the informed consent form.
  3. Once received, applications are reviewed by FCE staff and physicians.
  4. An FCE staff member schedules a follow-up telephone interview with candidate.
  5. If accepted into the program, the volunteer meets their paired first-year medical students at a welcome event held at the beginning of the academic year.
  6. The volunteer and two medical students will determine the best times and place to meet throughout the next two years.
  7. Evaluate students and share feedback with FCE staff.
  8. Determine if you would like to continue to volunteer for another two-year mentorship.

FAQs about FCE

Do I have to have a chronic illness or medical condition to participate? 
Yes. We are looking for individuals or caregivers of individuals that have a chronic illness or a medical condition that has a major impact on their daily life. Participants must be willing to discuss their thoughts, feelings and experiences with first- and second-year medical students.

What is the time commitment?
There are six visits in total – three in the first year and three in the second year. Most visits will occur in the volunteer’s home and last approximately one to two hours. Generally, there is one visit in the fall, one in the winter and one in the spring. We ask participants for a commitment of two years so that students can follow you and your family through all required visits.

What is the length of each visit?
Each of the six visits throughout the two-year timeframe could last approximately one to three hours. The length of each visit depends upon the volunteer family and the students. Because this process creates a working relationship, the length of time is determined by the volunteer and the student.

Is there compensation for time?
While not compensated financially, volunteer families receive tremendous satisfaction from working with Geisinger Commonwealth students. Volunteer families influence the way tomorrow’s doctors are trained in a significant way. The college hosts a welcome reception to thank volunteers and their families for their commitment.

Do I have to have a traditional family to qualify for the program? 
No. The term family in the Family-centered Experience is very broadly defined as a group of people on whom one depends for emotional or other support. The FCE program is deeply committed to diversity among volunteers. We can all learn from the mixture of voices and experiences that come from our community.

Will the students live with me? 
No. Students have established housing.

When the students are in my home, do I need to serve them refreshments or food? 
No. Your willingness to talk with medical students about your personal health experiences is enough of a gift. Some families invite students to share a meal; however, it is not expected nor is it required.

Can the students give me or my family medical care? 
No. FCE staff request that you keep medical questions for the healthcare teams treating you and not the medical students as they are in the early stages of training. Medical students are not yet qualified to provide any medical advice or medical care.

Why does an FCE volunteer need to live within 25 – 30 miles of a regional campus? 
Students need to be able to visit you and be back on campus in a reasonable period of time. A map is available that outlines Geisinger Commonwealth’s coverage area to determine your distance to one of the regional campuses.

How will you use my confidential information?
Following each visit, students discuss and explore their thoughts and experiences in small-group sessions led by a faculty member at Geisinger Commonwealth. Confidentiality is mandatory and great efforts are made to preserve confidentiality within and outside the small-group learning sessions. In fact, understanding the importance of confidentiality related to medical care is a primary goal for medical students.

Contact us

Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine
Family-centered Experience
Medical Sciences Building
Regional Campus Office, 4th fl.
525 Pine St.
Scranton, PA 18509
570-207-3681
Fax: 570-955-1305
rcr@som.geisinger.edu