Skip Navigation LinksHome > October 2013 - Volume 88 - Issue 10 > The Design of a Medical School Social Justice Curriculum
Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3182a325be
Articles

The Design of a Medical School Social Justice Curriculum

Coria, Alexandra; McKelvey, T. Greg; Charlton, Paul; Woodworth, Michael MD; Lahey, Timothy MD, MMSc

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Abstract

The acquisition of skills to recognize and redress adverse social determinants of disease is an important component of undergraduate medical education. In this article, the authors justify and define “social justice curriculum” and then describe the medical school social justice curriculum designed by the multidisciplinary Social Justice Vertical Integration Group (SJVIG) at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. The SJVIG addressed five goals: (1) to define core competencies in social justice education, (2) to identify key topics that a social justice curriculum should cover, (3) to assess social justice curricula at other institutions, (4) to catalog institutionally affiliated community outreach sites at which teaching could be paired with hands-on service work, and (5) to provide examples of the integration of social justice teaching into the core (i.e., basic science) curriculum. The SJVIG felt a social justice curriculum should cover the scope of health disparities, reasons to address health disparities, and means of addressing these disparities. The group recommended competency-based student evaluations and advocated assessing the impact of medical students’ social justice work on communities. The group identified the use of class discussion of physicians’ obligation to participate in social justice work as an educational tool, and they emphasized the importance of a mandatory, longitudinal, immersive, mentored community outreach practicum. Faculty and administrators are implementing these changes as part of an overall curriculum redesign (2012–2015). A well-designed medical school social justice curriculum should improve student recognition and rectification of adverse social determinants of disease.

© 2013 by the Association of American Medical Colleges

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