GAP YEAR FELLOWSHIP


Life During Fellowship

Because Fellows take on significant responsibility for scheduling their time and because so much of the Fellowship is grounded in developing relationships with others, the best matches for the Fellowship tend to be those who take initiative, who are self motivated, who have good time management skills, and who like to spend time with people.

Ervin on the “Farmhouse” Front Porch with Horseshoe Farm Fellows in Background

The aim of the Horseshoe Farm supported housing program is to improve the quality of life and level of function of residents. Fellows help to facilitate this in a variety of ways. In addition to taking the lead in managing the housing program, Fellows help residents build relationships within the community, organize and enjoy day trips with residents, support residents in volunteer work and other community activities, provide transportation, and help residents to navigate the healthcare and social services systems. Through this work Fellows develop very close relationships with the residents. Consistently, past Fellows have described their work in the housing program as emotionally challenging and complex but extremely rewarding and worthwhile.

In the youth programs, Fellows take the lead in planning and organizing existing programs and in some cases developing new programs. They work with school administrators and teachers, manage and coordinate volunteers in the programs, and work directly with the children.

Horseshoe Farm Fellow Dimitri Macris leading an afterschool program at the Community Clubhouse

In the Community Clubhouse, Fellows take the lead in planning, organizing, and running day programs for elderly and mentally disabled adults in the community. They also provide outreach support to vulnerable community members who could benefit from home visits, transportation, a delivered home cooked meal, or other support as needed. Fellows also provide outreach support to vulnerable community members to help improve their quality of life and to help them live successfully in the community.

Over the year, Fellows should discover how the above activities relate to medicine and healthcare, but to help Fellows have more direct contact with healthcare and health systems, Fellows are provided a list of activities including opportunities to shadow several local physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, and others who have welcomed Fellows to join them in experiences in local clinics, community hospitals, and other health settings.

Service is an important part but not the only component of the Fellowship. Fellows also have the opportunity to hone their leadership and management skills and to learn about the operations of a small community based non-profit organization. Fellows work with the Managing Director, Program Directors, and the Executive Director to manage and lead the organization’s service programs. Fellows recruit and support volunteers, work on continuous program improvement, and address organizational or program problems when they arise. Fellows also participate in business and strategy meetings, participate in quarterly Board meetings, help prepare monthly financial summaries for the Board, and help with development and fundraising.

Community involvement and engagement are central and linked to nearly all of the activities of the organization. Fellows are encouraged to spend time getting to know the many wonderful people in the community, exploring the fascinating and complex region, and getting involved with the community in ways beyond Horseshoe Farm and its service programs. Past Fellows have spent time with local pastors, farmers, judges, business and civic leaders, they have taken trips around the local region and the state, and they have gotten involved in the community in ways related to their own unique interests.

Local farmer John Henry teaches Horseshoe Farm Fellows how to start a garden.

Finally, Fellows’ experiences are complemented by a reading and discussion series that over the course of the year focuses on:

  1. Citizenship, community, and engagement.
  2. The history and evolution of American medicine and healthcare.
  3. Healthcare law, ethics, economics, structures, financing, and policy.
  4. Management and Leadership of a Non-Profit Organization.
  5. A brief introduction to Medicine and the Mind and Community Mental Health Systems.

Taken as whole, the Fellowship year is challenging but is intended to provide a rich and textured experience that will help to prepare promising students for community based service leadership in the rapidly evolving healthcare and education systems they will likely face.