An Enhancement Strategy for Integration of Population Health into Medical School Education: Employing the Framework Developed by the Healthy People Curriculum Task Force

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The authors describe an enhancement strategy for integration of population health content into the medical school curriculum at The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University conducted in 2005–2006. The Clinical Prevention and Population Health Curriculum Framework developed by the Healthy People Curriculum Task Force served as the planning template for curriculum analysis. Key to success was the incorporation of population health as a “curriculum enhancement,” as opposed to curricular expansion or substitution. Strategies included introduction of a Case-Based Series in Population-Oriented Prevention (C-POP) in the preclinical years; community assessments, home visits, and public health assignments in the family medicine and pediatrics clinical clerkships; and prevention history-taking.The Brody integrated curriculum included a wide range of topics and clinical experiences specific to prevention and population health; however, the coverage was uneven. Hybrid teaching cases were developed from four C-POP cases which were adapted to existing instructional materials. Students learned to define the determinants of health, disease burden in their community settings, and community strengths and obstacles specific to dealing with chronic conditions.Factors contributing to the successful integration of population health included a receptive primary care medical school, use of the Framework, analysis of gaps between the Framework and the existing curriculum, providing enhancements to the existing curriculum, employment of patient cases, and integrating population health into a variety of classroom and community medical learning experiences. This approach, as opposed to a separate and distinct course, seeks to reinforce the interconnectedness of communities, families, and individuals.

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