FAQs about Family Centered Experience Program

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.

Program commitment
There are five visits in total – two 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.

Length of each visit
Each of the five 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.

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 already have established housing.

When the students are in my home, do I need to serve them refreshments or dinner?
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 team 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.

Use of 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.