Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the School of Medicine was unable to hold its annual Social Issues in Medicine poster session in late April. However, the amazing work of our medical students and community partners is now being showcased outside of the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library entrance until Nov. 19.
Since 2006, the Social Issues in Medicine Course (SIM) has been a requirement for all first-year medical students and designed to educate them about the social determinants of health. An important pillar of the course is to foster a humanistic approach to medicine and an ethic of service in our budding physicians.
To accomplish this, students attend content sessions led by expert physicians and community leaders, participate in small-group discussions, engage in self-reflection activities, attend outside lectures, and have experiential hands-on learning on health disparities.
Starting in their first year, SIM students are placed in small groups at a community health and human services agency or school for a service-learning experience that is project-based with measurable outcomes. Last year, our students worked at 29 sites, logging a combined total of over 4,000 hours. SIM project posters reflect the service-learning of the current second-year students (SMD23).
Mo Nadkarni, MD, Professor of Internal Medicine, says, “As Social Issues in Medicine Course Director, I am so proud of our students for the important work they have collaborated upon with so many community agencies to provide needed and real help to our neighbors who need it most.”
Recent Student Experiences
Food Insecurity: Volunteering for Loaves & Fishes was an eye-opening experience for Ebby Goggins, SMD23, saying “it was one of the most rewarding aspects of my medical-school career. It has made me aware of the challenges many individuals in Charlottesville face with regards to food insecurity while allowing me to help make a difference in this area. Despite having a busy schedule as a medical student, I am always very glad to volunteer at Loaves & Fishes alongside a dedicated and compassionate group of individuals.”
Incarceration and Health: Joseph Michel, SMD23 and generalist scholar, taught health education classes at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. “It was definitely an eye-opening experience,” he says. “Not only did we get to pass on some of the knowledge that we had been learning in the classroom, but we also got the invaluable opportunity to learn from our students’ experiences and strengthen our empathy for the members of our community that become entangled within the prison system.”
Mental Health: Tony DeNovio, SMD23, says that working with On Our Own was an incredible experience. “Mental health is a facet of every aspect of care and is applicable to any specialty. The outstanding leadership and welcoming environment of On Our Own made it easier for my classmates and me to make an impact. We conversed with the members of On Our Own and had the privilege of hearing their stories. One story in particular stood out because the member shared a traumatic experience with a past physician, who may have not been well versed in mental healthcare. We assured the member that Social Issues in Medicine courses across the nation are enabling future physicians to better understand mental health and remove the stigma associated with treatment. Overall this experience was unforgettable and I will forever incorporate the lessons learned as I continue my physician training.”
Thank you to our faculty, staff, and students who make Social Issues in Medicine such an impactful course. If you have questions or comments about the projects or SIM, please contact Dr. Mo Nadkarni at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tammy Prailey at email@example.com.
R.J. Canterbury, MD, MS, DLFAPA
Wilford W. Spradlin Professor
Senior Associate Dean for Education