A Prognosis for Health Systems Science Courses: Observations From Current Students

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Certain medical schools have begun teaching courses in health systems science (HSS) to train medical students in skills aimed to improve health care in the United States. Although substantial research has been done on the potential benefit of HSS courses, reactions from students have not been reported. In this Invited Commentary, five medical students who have completed the first year of a longitudinal HSS course at the Arizona campus of the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine offer their observations of how early exposure to HSS affected their reactions to subsequent course work and current events in health care. The authors describe the HSS course and outline three benefits they have observed from their experience so far: (1) thinking more critically about health care delivery during all educational experiences, (2) gaining a better understanding of the complexity of the health care system, and (3) having a greater consideration for the many facets of health care delivery. The HSS course helped the authors identify health systems problems, develop solutions that incorporated diverse domains of health care delivery, and recognize the role and responsibility of the physician as an agent of change in a health care system.

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