Public Health Engaged Learning Opportunities

Ways to Support Public Health in the Berkshires

Many students reach out to CLiA, wanting to help address the public health needs of our community. There are many ways to help support public health right here in the Berkshires, from elder outreach to lactation support. See below for some of the ways to get involved.  If you are interested in possibilities not listed here, don’t hesitate to reach out to Ash Bell at [email protected] for help.

  • Williamstown Commons

    Williamstown Commons is a local nursing, rehabilitation, and long-term care facility located on Adams Road in Williamstown. Volunteer opportunities with Williamstown Commons range from helping plan and run activities and playing games with groups of residents to sitting outside with a resident providing one on one companionship. 

    Volunteers are required to fill out an application which is available at the front desk of Williamstown Commons, provide proof of a TB test, submit a CORI check form, and go through a short orientation. If you have more questions, please contact the activities director, Karla, at 413-458-2111.

    Bennington Free Clinic

    The Dr. G. Richard Dundas Free Clinic, also known as the Bennington Free Clinic, provides free medical care to uninsured and underinsured adults. Contact Clinic Nurse Manager Eileen Rice at [email protected] for information regarding volunteer opportunities at the Clinic.

    Berkshire Health Systems

    Berkshire Health Systems is the major hospital system and healthcare provider in the Berkshires. They have a wide variety of volunteer opportunities in many departments including: the emergency department, endoscopy, ambulatory surgery, store room, patient liaisons, and many more. 

    Many of the required forms and further information is available via the Berkshire Health Systems Volunteer Information folder, which should be reviewed before reaching out to Darlene Baisley at [email protected] to express interest in applying.


    HospiceCare provides hospice end of life care and support for families experiencing end of life transitions of family members. They seek volunteers to provide visits, a listening ear, administrative help and special event support. 

    More information can be found in the HospiceCare Volunteer Information folder, which should be reviewed before reaching out to Lori Johnson at [email protected] to express interest in applying.

    Check out this short informational video by CLiA Summer Fellow Khedija Shafi on how to get involved with HospiceCare in the Berkshires.

    Berkshire Nursing Families

    Berkshire Nursing Families provides one on one contact and support for every step of the newborn feeding process from prenatal to breast/chest feeding support. 

    To see examples of what work their interns have done in the past please visit the link above. If you are interested in interning with BNF contact Rosalie Girard at [email protected].

  • SPEC 19: Exploring Healthcare

    Experience in a healthcare environment is essential to exploring the health professions. Through this experiential course, students have an opportunity to clarify their understanding of the rewards and challenges of the practice of allopathic and osteopathic medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry, allied health professions, or public health. Students will participate in an intensive shadowing internship through a self-identified placement in a geographic location of their choosing. Generally, a shadowing experience focuses on provider-patient interactions within out-patient and in-patient settings. These experiences provide students with the opportunity to observe clinical interactions and to learn about the systems within which healthcare is delivered. Students will be introduced to fundamental concepts related to patient interviewing, diagnosis, and medical decision making. This course will encourage participants to reflect on their healthcare experiences with a dual focus: from the perspective of the individual provider-patient relationship and within a systems-level context. Weekly didactic sessions will expose students to broader perspectives in healthcare. By the end of the course, students will demonstrate greater understanding of the fundamentals of patient-provider interactions, clinical diagnosis, patient interviewing, and/or factors affecting the health of individuals and communities. They will write a final reflective paper on their experiences. Students are welcome to participate in self-sourced shadowing or volunteering internships in a geographic area where they have housing and transportation, or will have the opportunity to be placed in the Williamstown area.

    SPEC 30: Emergency Medical Technician Training

    This course will prepare students for the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) certification, a first step towards applying for state licensure. Upon successful completion of this course and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Psychomotor (Practical) Examination students are eligible to sit for the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) computer-based cognitive exam. Please note that this course requires an intensive time commitment both in the classroom and for self-study. SPEC 30 is a full-time commitment. There is a $1,400 cost associated with this course, if this is a barrier to entry for you we will work with financial aid to find a way for you to participate. Those who have a strong interest in healthcare and would actively utilize this training are encouraged to apply.

    PSCI 21: Fieldwork in Public Affairs and Private Non-Profits

    This course is a participant-observation experience in which students work full-time for a governmental or nongovernmental (including voluntary, activist, and grassroots) organization or a political campaign. Examples include town government offices; state or federal administrative offices (e.g., environmental agencies, housing authorities); interest groups that lobby government (e.g., ACLU, NRA); nonprofit organizations such as service providers or think tanks (e.g., Habitat for Humanity, Cato Institute); and grassroots, activist or community development organizations (e.g., Greenpeace or neighborhood associations). The instructors and members of the Political Science Department are available to help students find placements, if necessary, but such arrangements must be made in advance of the Winter Term. Students should first make their own contracts with an institution or agency. Each student’s fieldwork mentor shall send a confirmation letter to the instructor verifying the placement and describing the nature of the work to be performed. During the session, students are responsible for keeping a journal of their experiences and observations. Additionally, students write final papers summarizing and reflecting upon the experience in light of assigned readings. A group meeting of all students will occur before Winter Study to prepare and after to discuss the experience. Every year, course instructors arrange for some distinct sections of this course to provide specialized fieldwork opportunities in the area for small groups of students.

    PSYC 21: Psychology Internships

    Would you like to explore applications of psychology in the “real world?” This course gives students an opportunity to work full-time during Winter Study in a mental health, business, education, law, or another setting in which psychological theories and methods are applied to solve problems. Students are responsible for locating their own potential internships whether in the local area, their hometowns, or elsewhere, and are welcome to contact the course instructor for suggestions on how to do this. In any case, all students considering this course must consult with the instructor about the suitability of the internship being considered before the Winter Study registration period. Please prepare a brief description of the proposed placement, noting its relevance to psychology, and the name and contact information of the agency supervisor. Before Thanksgiving break, the student will provide a letter from the agency supervisor which describes the agency, and the student’s role and responsibilities during Winter Study. Enrolled students will meet the instructor before Winter Study to discuss matters relating to ethics and their goals for the course, and after Winter Study to discuss their experiences and reflections.