Scholarly Concentration: Health Equity & Social Justice
The Health Equity and Social Justice Scholarly Concentration (HESJ-SC) welcomes students interested in a deeper, more focused learning experience that centers on health justice and Equity First. The Equity First curricular paradigm views medicine and scholarly work as an application of equity, justice, and humanism, and seeks to challenge biases engendered by dominant curricular frameworks, including those rooted in racism and white supremacy.
The Health Equity & Social Justice SC is a new endeavor for 1st and 2nd year medical students with a desire to engage in social change work—from the inside out. As physicians and healers, we must often embody the social position of ally, advocate, or activist for change in order to advance health equity for marginalized patients and communities. Such positions require critical awareness of the social drivers that shape how we view medicine and the delivery of care, as well as a deep understanding of how to translate theory into action. Unfortunately, learning experiences which uplift these elements of change are rare in the medical education setting. The REACH Health Equity & Social Justice Concentration seeks to address this gap by helping students form their identity as change agents at the intersection of social justice and medicine.
The HESJ-SC is grounded in important pedagogical tools such as critical consciousness & self-reflection, transformational thinking, and praxis, functionalized within a dialogic and collaborative environment. Important themes of well-being, community, and leadership constitute core thematic elements which are emphasized throughout the SC pathway.
The Health Equity and Social Justice Scholarly Concentration is an application area. As such, students are required to complete 6 units of Foundation coursework and 6 units of HESJ Application coursework. The HESJ-SC is a 3-component pathway comprising the (1) HESJ-SC Core Foundations Course, (2) HESJ-SC Skills Course, and (3) Practicum, as detailed below. Courses will enroll 6-10 students per term and will include on-campus and offsite activities.
(1) HESJ-SC Core Foundations Course - MED269A (3 units):
Offered in the Spring quarter of 2023 and the Winter quarter of each academic year to follow. This course focuses on engaging core concepts of social justice & health equity in order to build a foundation for change. Over 10 weeks, students will engage in critical self-reflection, discourse, and activities that strengthen their ability to examine intersections of medicine and oppressive ideological and structural frameworks that produce health inequities. This course will draw heavily from a number of theoretical frameworks, including critical race theory, liberatory consciousness, and equity pedagogy, amongst others to realize the Equity First model.
(2) HESJ-SC Core Skills Course - MED269B (3 units):
Offered in the Summer of 2023 and each Spring/Summer quarter thereafter. This course focuses on building core skills necessary to effectively engage in social justice & health equity change work. During this 10-week course, students will acquire tools & strategies for creating change toward health justice while applying frameworks learned in Med269A. Students will work individually and in groups to understand real-world problems and begin to cultivate their own change agent identity. The Practicum project will be introduced early in this course as an instrument to help students bring into focus a specific area of interest.
(3) Practicum - (Scholarly Concentration Project):
The HESJ-SC practicum is a pathway experience which begins during MED269B and culminates (ideally) in the following summer with a project deliverable. This mentored experience is meant to support student engagement in a specific domain of change (e.g. community, policy, education, or patient care) and may be separate or combined with other scholarly projects. Practical application of HESJ core concepts and skills learned during MED269A & MED269B is expected. REACH funding will be available for selected projects.
For more information please contact:
Stephen Richmond, MD, MPH
Clinical Assistant Professor
Division of Primary Care and Population Health
Stanford University School of Medicine