The social mission, which is focused on advancing social justice and health equity, has gained recognition as an important aspect of health professions education. However, there is currently no established method to measure a school’s commitment to these activities. In this Perspective, the authors describe the development of a new tool to measure the social mission at dental, medical, and nursing schools across the United States, and they reflect on the implications of using this tool to deepen discussions around the social mission and strengthen progress towards health equity.
From 2016 to 2019, the authors created and field tested the online social mission metrics survey for health professions schools to identify their level of engagement in social mission activities, track that level over time, and compare their progress to that of other schools. The survey measures a school’s social mission values, programs, and activities across 6 domains and 18 activity areas. The authors also developed a scoring system based on stakeholder priorities, which they used to provide customized, confidential feedback to the schools that participated in the field tests.
Going forward, the authors recommend that schools complete the survey every 3 to 5 years to track their social mission over time, and they plan to expand the survey process to additional dental, medical, and nursing schools as well as to schools in other health professions. The social mission metrics survey is meant to be a useful tool for improving the level and quality of social mission engagement at health professions schools, with the goal of improving the awareness, skills, and commitment of health professionals to health equity.