Developing a novel Poverty in Healthcare curriculum for medical students at the University of Michigan Medical School

Acad Med. 2008 Jan;83(1):5-13. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31815c6791.


Nearly 90 million Americans live below 200% of the federal poverty threshold. The links between lower socioeconomic status and poor health are clear, and all physicians face the resulting challenges in patient care. Current medical school curricula do not adequately prepare students to address this issue despite recommendations from the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Institute of Medicine. In response, students and faculty at the University of Michigan Medical Center established the Poverty in Healthcare curriculum, which encompasses required learning experiences spanning all four years of undergraduate medical education. This article describes the design and implementation of this curriculum. The authors provide thorough descriptions of the individual learning experiences, including community site visits, longitudinal cases, mini-electives, and family centered experiences. The authors also discuss the history, costs, challenges, and evaluation process related to the Poverty in Healthcare curriculum, including issues specifically related to medical students' involvement in developing and implementing the curriculum. This information may be used as a guide for other medical schools in the development of curricula to address this current gap in medical student education.

MeSH terms

  • Competency-Based Education / organization & administration*
  • Curriculum*
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / organization & administration*
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Humans
  • Michigan
  • Poverty*
  • Program Development
  • Schools, Medical
  • Social Class
  • Social Medicine / education*
  • United States