Introduction: Traditional medical training focuses on ameliorating disease states but not on the underlying socially determined causes. The LEADS (Leadership Education Advocacy Development Scholarship) program at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine was designed to train medical students to become effective advocates and to promote health at the community level.
Methods: Participants in the LEADS Track complete courses in advocacy skills, perform a summer internship, and complete a mentored scholarly activity addressing population health. Students are paired with a faculty mentor and a community-based organization.
Results: Students report empowerment, improved self-efficacy, and increased likelihood of future engagement in leadership and health advocacy. Community sponsors also rate the experience as highly valuable.
Conclusions: A curriculum in advocacy and leadership skills that includes an intensive, community-based service learning experience is effective at increasing student empowerment and disposition toward community service.