Socially Accountable Medical Education: An Innovative Approach at Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine

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Abstract

Problem

Despite medical advances, health disparities persist, resulting in medicine’s renewed emphasis on the social determinants of health and calls for reform in medical education.

Approach

The Green Family Foundation Neighborhood Health Education Learning Program (NeighborhoodHELP) at Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine provides a platform for the school’s community-focused mission. NeighborhoodHELP emphasizes social accountability and interprofessional education while providing evidence-based, patient- and household-centered care. NeighborhoodHELP is a required, longitudinal service–learning outreach program in which each medical student is assigned a household in a medically underserved community. Students, teamed with learners from other professional schools, provide social and clinical services to their household for three years. Here the authors describe the program’s engagement approach, logistics, and educational goals and structure.

Outcomes

During the first six years of NeighborhoodHELP (September 2010–August 2016), 1,470 interprofessional students conducted 7,452 visits to 848 households with, collectively, 2,252 members. From August 2012, when mobile health centers were added to the program, through August 2016, students saw a total of 1,021 household members through 7,207 mobile health center visits. Throughout this time, households received a variety of free health and social services (e.g., legal aid, tutoring). Compared with peers from other schools, graduating medical students reported more experience with clinical interprofessional education and health disparities. Surveyed residency program directors rated graduates highly for their cultural sensitivity, teamwork, and accountability.

Next Steps

Faculty and administrators are focusing on social accountability curriculum integration, systems for assessing and tracking relevant educational and household outcomes, and policy analysis.

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