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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 Rodney M. Coe Distinction in Community Service program will conclude with the School of Medicine Class of 2021.  Starting with the class of 2022, students will have the opportunity to graduate with a Distinction in Urban Community Health.

The program provides service learning opportunities for students 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 develop leadership abilities necessary for successful work in the community.

Meet the 2018 Honorees

Meet the 2019 Honorees

Application Process

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


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

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 in the Department of Community Medicine at Saint Louis University. 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 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.

Give to the Rodney M. Coe Distinction in Community Service Program

This fund supports the work of medical students who engage in a four-year project of service to the community. Examples include developing nutrition programs for middle school students, program evaluation for community health centers, and volunteerism. Upon completion of the four-year project, medical students graduate with an M.D. with Distinction in Community Service and the benefit of having gained first-hand experience in providing service to underserved patients.