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Rodney M. Coe Program

The M.D. with Distinction in Community Service is awarded upon graduation following the completion of a four-year program of community service, faculty-guided reflection and integrative workshops at Saint Louis University School of Medicine.

The Rodney M. Coe Distinction in Community Service Program, or Coe Program, is designed to promote a reciprocal, beneficial relationship between the student and the community that results in both professional character development and increased community health.

The Coe Program provides service learning opportunities for you to develop a familiarity with the context of and interventions applied to communities and community health issues to acquire skills, compassion and understanding, and thereby developing leadership abilities necessary for successful work in the community.

Application Process

Applications can be made through the Department of Family and Community Medicine within the first year of medical studies. The Coe Committee screens and accepts applicants based on your desire and commitment to participate in community service as well as upon space availability in the program.


Once accepted into the Coe Program, you will meet with a mentor for the first year of the program. After the first year, he or she will assign you to a faculty mentor from the Department of Family and Community Medicine or the Family Practice Program based on your area of interest. Mentors will follow your progress, approve all qualifying experiences, and guide your final community service project.

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Who is Coe?

Rodney Coe, Ph.D. (1933-2014) began his career as a criminologist for the Illinois prison system. He earned his Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology from Washington University in St. Louis. Coe continued research in the area of medical sociology and long-term care facilities, which lead to a career path of gerontology. In 1970,  Coe began his career as an associate professor of the Department of Community Medicine at SLU. In 1972, he earned the rank of professor, and in 1982 he was appointed as chairperson of the department, a position which he held for ten years. Dr. Coe was an accomplished scholar and researcher who published numerous articles and books covering gerontology and medical sociology issues.

The Rodney M. Coe Distinction in Community Service award was established based upon the desire and passion of medical students with whom Coe worked at that time and his advocacy efforts within the School of Medicine. The medical students had a desire to expand and include their medical training to include service within the community. This philosophy of service, strongly held by Coe from his research and work, was something he wanted to support and cultivate in current and future medical students.

Coe developed the initial guidelines of a four-year faculty mentored program that encouraged and supported not only the service component but the development of leadership skills and qualities of reflection on how these experiences could shape or influence the future practice of medical students, regardless of their eventual discipline within the medical profession. The Class of 1995 had the first four medical students to graduate with an M.D. with Distinction in Community Service.