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Community Health and Social Medicine Course Descriptions

Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education

Community Health and Social Medicine Course Descriptions

  • MED 22401
Health, Medicine & Society II: Practicum in Community Health Assessment

Spring, 2nd Year/2 credits

1 lecture hour, 2 workshop hours per week

Co-requisite: MED 21400

Duration: 15 weeks

Course Coordinator: Sharina Marte

Course Director: Christine Sheffer, Ph.D.

The Practicum in Community Health Assessment is a two-credit course focused on understanding and applying approaches to conducting community health assessments. Using a problem-based learning approach, students will learn and apply skills and knowledge acquired in the course to conduct all the pertinent components of a community health assessment. This course employs lectures, workshops, field exercises, and the use of databases that track relevant health data in New York City, the United States, and elsewhere.


  • MED 23400
Health, Medicine & Society III: Field Work in Community Medicine

Spring/Summer, 2nd Year/5 credits

8.5 lecture hours, 4 hours small group sessions, 8.5 laboratory hours and 161.5 field work hours

Co-requisite: MED 22401

Duration: 9 weeks

Course Coordinator: Sharina Marte

Course Director: Erica Lubetkin, M.D.

The field placement is a structured clerkship that introduces students to an inner-city community and a social or health service agency. Each student works in one of numerous agencies located in the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Long Island and Staten Island under the dual supervision of the Community Medicine faculty/staff and a provider preceptor. Placement sites include health centers, hospital outpatient services, social welfare agencies, and programs for the elderly, adolescents and children. The course is taught during the spring and summer. Students learn interviewing, screening and advocacy techniques. Students work 20 hours per week in a community-based agency. In addition to their agency responsibilities, students:

1.    maintain a log of their activities, their interaction with patients and staff, and their analysis of proposed solutions to problems in their own work and that of the agency;
2.    prepare an agency report that examines the background, governance, population served, services and programs, and how the agency is funded;
3.    present a case study of a family or individual focusing on the effects of community, social and economic factors on the patient's health;
4.    conduct a community survey on a defined population (including questionnaire construction, pilot testing, aggregation and analysis of results).    


  • MED 33501
Health, Medicine and Society IV: Fundamentals of Epidemiology

Fall, 3rd Year/3 credits

3 lecture hours per week plus 1 hour recitation

Prerequisites: MED 21400, MED 22401, MED 23400 and Statistics

Duration: 15 weeks

Course Director: Nancy Sohler, Ph.D.

This course equips students with the ability to understand and evaluate the impact of environmental, biological, social, and behavioral risk factors on health and disease through the epidemiologic methods. The course uses lectures, small group meetings and assignments to acquaint students with: measures of morbidity and mortality; techniques of epidemiologic surveillance including disease outbreaks; appropriate settings for use of cross-sectional, prospective and retrospective study design as methods to examine disease causation and distribution; calculation of relative risk; sources of bias and variability in studies. Lectures and workshops reinforce student facility with statistical methods used in analyzing and interpreting the medical literature. Small group meetings require students to demonstrate the skills of critical evaluation of epidemiologic evidence.


  • MED 41700
Health, Medicine & Society V: The U.S. Health Care System

Spring, 3rd Year/3 credits

4 hours per week

Prerequisites: MED 21400, MED 23400, and MED 33501

Duration: 11.5 weeks

Course Director: Theresa Montini, Ph.D.

This course provides students with the knowledge and skills to critically examine how the U.S. health care system and policy-making apparatus influence the health of Americans. In lectures and small groups, students study the epidemiology of behavioral and environmental risk in U.S. sub-populations, the structure of the health system and medical insurance, and the role of public health, medicine and primary care in influencing health outcomes. Social and political factors of particular relevance to underserved, low income, and minority populations are emphasized. Students are required to develop presentations and written papers for seminars, where topics presented in the readings and lectures are explored in greater depth. In concert with skills previously acquired in Fundamentals of Epidemiology MED 33501 students completing this course will emerge with an understanding of study design as it informs medical outcomes and health services research.


  • MED 53900
Clinical Decision Making and Evidence-Based Medicine

Fall, 5th Year/2 credits

2 lecture and conference hours per week

Prerequisite: MED 33501

Duration: 15 weeks

Course Director: Erica I. Lubetkin, M.D. , M.P.H.

This course focuses on applications of the scientific method to evaluations of medical practice. Through lectures and problem-solving workshops, the course reviews the methods of evidence-based assessment of the medical literature. Using examples taken from the peer-reviewed scientific literature, students gain understanding of core concepts such as probability, sensitivity and specificity of diagnostic testing, measurement of risk, pre-and post-test likelihoods, decision analysis and cost effectiveness analysis. These concepts are built upon in small group settings in the context of decision making within clinical practice.