Is This the Med School You Remember?

Medical school curriculum is ever-evolving to address advances in technology, the latest research discoveries and more. This was true when you were a student – and it’s true today. But now, medical schools, including UVA, are broadening their curriculum further to ensure tomorrow’s care providers are equipped not only to practice medicine, but also to effectively and compassionately serve their communities.

“Courses that highlight and support community involvement by medical students and trainees are vital to nurturing an ethic of service that is a part of our professional duty,” says Mohan Nadkarni, MD, Chief, Division of General Medicine, Geriatrics and Palliative Care.

Embracing the Community Classroom

Below are some of the UVA Medical School courses currently being offered that aim to guide students as they find ways to fulfill their quest to serve their communities.

Community Partnered Medicine

This fourth-year elective is designed to prepare medical students to work with underserved, vulnerable populations and patients who face social barriers and challenges like accessing healthcare, obtaining medication, and having good sources for nutrition. “Advocacy for our patients on the individual and collective level is vital to improving the health of the people and communities we serve,” says Nadkarni.

This course allows students to rotate through organizations including the Charlottesville Free Clinic, the UVA Ryan White HIV Clinic, the Central Virginia Community Health Center and University Medical Associates. They have an opportunity to see patients in the refugee clinic, conduct telehealth visits with patients in rural southwest Virginia and participate in community-service activities with organizations like Habitat for Humanity, PACEM and The Haven.

Learn more about Community Partnered Medicine.

Social Issues In Medicine

A mandatory course for all first-year medical students at UVA, Social Issues In Medicine covers topics such as poverty, housing and health; child welfare and abuse; LGBTQ health; mental health and addictions; and more.

“Medicine has been slow to embrace the need to address social determinants of health, which play a huge role in the medical outcomes of our patients,” says Nadkarni, who developed the course.

Through this course, students will witness these barriers to good health firsthand as they partner with local organizations to serve at-risk populations and perform more than 4,000 hours of service. There are no tests or a real grade. Instead, students are recognized for their efforts to improve community health outcomes.

Read more about Social Issues In Medicine.

Patient-Student Partnership

Another recent, mandatory addition to the medical school curriculum, the Patient-Student Partnership (PSP) pairs students with a patient as soon as they begin med school, and the partnership is maintained for all four years. The goal: to teach students about healthcare through the patient’s eyes.

Students become an active part of a patient’s medical team and will:

  • Go with the patient to doctor’s appointments
  • Talk with the patient’s healthcare team about his or her individual needs
  • Call or visit the patient at home.
  • Help the patient with medications.
  • Encourage the patient to set and reach health goals.

Learn more about PSP

To see the latest updates from the UVA School of Medicine, visit the Dean’s Office Blog.