USC’s Keck School of Medicine Health Justice Advocacy Program


Each month, AMA highlights the institutions that are part of the AMA Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium to showcase their work with the consortium and innovations in medical education.

Ron Ben-Ari, MD, FACP

Associate Dean, Curriculum, CME

Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine and Medical Education

Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC)

Number of years in the consortium: 2 years

Our Advocacy for Health Justice Curriculum Development Project aims to equip medical students with health advocacy skills to enable them to identify and address health inequalities throughout life. of their career. The project supports and guides the implementation this year of a renewed curriculum at the Keck School of Medicine, which includes a new course on Health Justice and Care Systems, which is core content for all students and integrated throughout the program.

We developed and piloted an eight-session health promotion course with professors from the Faculty of Medicine and the School of Public Policy in which topics such as health disparities, health equity, Cultural humility, community strengths and collaborative skills were explored through asynchronous and live sessions. Medical students were paired with Masters of Public Policy students to work in small groups with established and experienced leaders of community organizations to help them accelerate or improve an existing health initiative.

The final projects of the students of the pilot course included:

  1. Materials to distribute on maternal mortality disparities among blacks and cultural humility.
  2. Preparation of a policy summary on the repeal of a soda tax ban to be presented to the State Assembly Tax Commission.
  3. Development of a survey and cost-effectiveness analysis of alternatives to law enforcement in clinical settings in Los Angeles County.

Our goals are to develop, implement and disseminate a sustainable and scalable model of interdisciplinary and community collaboration to train medical students in the skills necessary to effectively advocate for improved health in their practices, communities and health. General public.

The content of the pilot course and the collaborative methodology have been appreciated by medical and master’s students in public policy as well as community advocates. Analysis of the focus group data is still ongoing, but the tools and methods provided to facilitate student engagement and understanding of community organizations appear to have been effective and efficient.

We were already poised to develop and implement a pre-pandemic health justice and care systems curriculum, but WADA’s support and membership in the Consortium for Accelerating the change in medical education have been extremely helpful in realizing our project vision, developing and delivering a substantial amount of online content and remotely integrating community leaders and other guests.

In addition, the Consortium has provided a ready community of medical educators and remarkable leadership to bring this group together on several occasions during this difficult time. Knowing that the challenges were similar across institutions was in itself helpful and we especially enjoyed the Structural Racism Series, Meetings and Listening Sessions to identify other schools with experience. and interventions that can inform our efforts. Recent conversations alone have provided some interesting strategies on how best to handle hybrid meetings.

I hope that the current level of attention given to EDI and health disparities will be maintained and that there will be more awareness and strategies to tackle structural racism in our curricula, roles of medical schools and health professionals in addressing these issues, and further alleviation of low percentages of UIM (especially black males) in medicine.

I think we will continue to focus on the UME to GME to CPD transitions and will need to prevent USMLE Step 2 from supplanting the stressor that was Step 1. I think we will focus on designing achievable, meaningful skills. and impartial clerkship performance reviews. I also believe that more attention and support for faculty development and CPD improvements more generally is needed to achieve our goals.

Fortunately, the spread of the Delta variant appears to be leveling off in our area and vaccination rates of around 90% in our faculty, staff and students have allowed us to bring all staff back to campus and resume classes. in person for our first- and sophomores. While physical proximity and the relative normalization of work-life and learning activities in and of themselves had a significant impact on team engagement, all camps still frequently worry about risks and risks. emergency plans.

Our primary strategy has been regular and frequent communications with ad hoc communications where appropriate. We have been particularly attentive in this direction with our medical students, if only to indicate “no changes to report”. The most regular communications were through weekly emails, but we had many town halls and regular team and department meetings. We have also recently adopted hybrid participation models for all Department of Medical Education meetings.

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