Alumni Profile: Dr. Adam Normandin
“I think that civic engagement really is the base of it all”: Dr. Adam Normandin’s work with patients experiencing homelessness comes full circle.
What does it mean to be a civic physician? Taking a look at the dedicated career of Dr. Adam Normandin, M15, provides a good model.
In addition to his work as a family medicine physician at Portland Family Medicine, a faculty member with Maine Medical Center’s Family Medicine residency program, and outreach director of the Preble Street Learning Collaborative (PSLC), Dr. Normandin serves as the course co-director of the Tisch College of Civic Life’s Community Service Learning (CSL) Program at Tufts University School of Medicine (TUSM).
His commitment to service and civic engagement is nothing new. In fact, it has marked his academic life and professional career. Dr. Normandin’s service-learning journey began as an undergraduate at Boston College during a year-long intensive course that combined theology and philosophy with volunteering in the Boston community. After graduation, he served as an AmeriCorps volunteer at Boston Healthcare for the Homeless, inspiring him to enroll at Tufts University Medical School and continue this path of “caring for the most underserved.”
At TUSM, Dr. Normandin became involved in the Sharewood Project, a free health care clinic that is managed by first- and second-year students. He served as director of the program while fulfilling his CSL requirement—a unique component of a TUSM education. Dr. Normandin believes that, even amid an intense and rigorous medical school schedule, most TUSM students exceed their required service hours, and he thinks the reason is their collective commitment to making a difference. “The real heart behind CSL is for it to be non-clinical . . . to solidify the philosophies of the impact physicians can have outside of the clinic walls while working towards the social determinants, advocacy, social justice, and health justice.”
In his first year, Dr. Normandin met Jen Greer-Morrissey, now the Civic Life Program Manager for Health Sciences at Tisch College. At the time, Jen was coordinating the TUSM CSL program and working to create a peer facilitator program, where second-year students could provide guidance to first-year students as they explored the CSL curriculum. Dr. Normandin worked with Jen on this project, forging a collaboration that continues today. Upon graduation, he was inducted into Tisch College’s honos civicus, which recognizes students who engaged in meaningful service and leadership activities strengthening civic life on campus and beyond.
As a student in the Maine Track Program, Dr. Normandin returned to his home state for his residency in family medicine at Maine Medical Center. At that time, the Preble Street Learning Collaborative (PSLC) opened as a space to provide much needed medical care for people experiencing homelessness in Portland and for students to learn how to care for this vulnerable population. Dr. Normandin’s “on the ground” experience at Sharewood played a large role in his involvement with PSLC, and that led to a job at Maine Medical after his residency. Now, Dr. Normandin describes his work this way: “I work between a general family medicine practice in Portland 70-percent of my time and 30-percent of my time down at the Learning Collaborative doing similar work to what I did as a resident. But now I’m coming full circle and doing a lot more teaching of medical students down there.”
Indeed, it really has come full circle. Dr. Normandin became co-course director of the Tisch College-TUSM CSL program, expanding opportunities in the Portland area, including through Tisch Summer Fellowship opportunities for TUSM students. As he so aptly puts it, “there are a lot of things that pull me in different ways, but the civic engagement piece is really the thread that ties that all together. If you can be caring for people and teaching tomorrow's learners how to care for people, all while studying and doing the academic work, . . . I think that's a really meaningful place to be.”