Public Health in Undergraduate Medical Education—An Innovative Four-Year Area of Concentration


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The development of programmatic tracks providing students with academic opportunities outside of the traditional medical curriculum represents a national trend in medical education. Enhancing medical student education with public health knowledge, skills and attitudes has been recommended by many organizations. With Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Interdisciplinary and Interprofessional Joint Graduate Degree five-year funding, the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University created an Inter-professional Primary Care Dual Degree Program (IPCDDP), building on Jefferson Medical College’s College within the College Scholarly Concentration Program in Population Health (CwiC – PH).

CwiC – PH is a four year longitudinal area of concentration. Key components include:

Year 1 – enhanced population health components of Introduction to Clinical Medicine, community immersions, twice monthly seminars

Summer – population health related programs locally and globally

Year 2 – case studies in Fundamentals of Clinical Medicine, twice monthly seminars applying social and behavioral foundations of Public Health

Year 3 – enhanced clerkship experiences

Year 4 – community-based electives and completion of a Capstone Project

Four cohorts (totaling 140 students) have entered the program (14% of medical students). Benefits to students include a certificate upon program completion, recognition in Dean’s letters, and 15 credits applied to the Jefferson Master of Public Health (MPH) program. Institutional collaboration and a description of the CwiC – PH program will be presented along with characteristics of enrolled students, implementation, evaluation, and sustainability plans.

James Plumb MD, MPH

Dr. Plumb is Vice-Chair, Community Medicine, Professor in Family and Community Medicine and Director of the Center for Urban Health. He currently co-directs a HRSA-funded four-year longitudinal area of concentration integrating public health and medical education, and is assisting colleagues in implementing public health and clinical experiences in Rwanda.

Rickie Brawer, PhD, MPH

Dr. Brawer is Associate Director of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital’s Center for Urban Health and Assistant Professor in Jefferson Medical College’s Department of Family and Community Medicine. As Associate Director of Jefferson Medical College’s College Within the College-Population Health Program, Dr. Brawer has helped integrate public health content into core medical school curriculum. She also teaches in the MPH program at Jefferson’s School of Population Health. She has spent more than two decades practicing public health in the Philadelphia area primarily through relationships with community-based organizations using CBPR approaches. Her research interests include obesity (food access and built environment), health literacy, Medical Legal Partnerships, chronic disease prevention/management and access to care.

Abbie Santana, MSPH

Ms. Santana is an Education Programs Administrator in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, Jefferson Medical College. Shee graduated from the University of Delaware with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and went on to earn a Master’s of Science in Public Health from Thomas Jefferson University. Ms. Santana is a contributing author in peer-reviewed journals, with a decade of experience in clinical, health-services, and community-based research as well as program planning and evaluation. Currently, she coordinates the College-within-the-College Program in Population Health, providing education and mentorship to students and health professionals who seek to add public health expertise to their skill set.



1. Organize an approach to integrating population health into a medical school curriculum.

2. Apply a methodology to recruit students into an area of concentration in population health.

3. Identify the challenges in curricular reform and innovation.

Presentation: 36 minutes

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