Social Contexts in Medicine: A Patient-Centered Curriculum Empowering Medical Students to Provide Contextualized Care.

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Humans, Students, Medical Curriculum, Medicine, Patient-Centered Care, Power, Psychological


Introduction: Social Contexts in Medicine (SCIM) is an 18-month program that connects medical students, patients, and physicians for a longitudinal learning experience. SCIM was developed for first- and second-year medical students and seeks to supplement students' biomedical education with practical experiences built around community and continuity. The program increases students' awareness of, and skills to address, social determinants of health via a seminar series, a home visit program, and a mentoring component.

Methods: The program begins with a seminar series covering communication skills and the basics of social determinants of health, providing the foundation for successful home visits. Students are then paired with a patient for home visits to learn firsthand about the complex social factors that affect health and illness, patient participation in health care systems, and the doctor-patient relationship. In conjunction with the home visits, students obtain guidance from a physician mentor.

Results: The SCIM program has been successful during its first 3 years at our institution. Analysis of changes in student attitudes using Crandall's Medical Student Attitudes Toward the Underserved survey has shown that SCIM students develop more positive attitudes toward the underserved than do their peers completing traditional clinic-based preceptorships. Additionally, in student surveys, the average response to the statement "I learned something valuable I would not have otherwise learned in my classes" has been 4.5 out of 5.

Discussion: These findings suggest that the SCIM model contributes to medical education by broadening students' understanding about the influence of social factors on health and disease.



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