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Community Health and Social Medicine Department

Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education

Community Health and Social Medicine Department

The Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education is unique among the nation's medical schools in tailoring its curriculum towards preparation of students to become community-oriented primary care physicians who will serve in medically underserved areas. This mission is achieved through the School's intensive three-year sequence of courses in Community Health and Social Medicine (CHASM), which include field placements in community medicine in partnership with community-based health centers and health-related programs in underserved areas of New York City.

Through field placements, course work, and independent study, CHASM provides students with the opportunity to go beyond traditional patient encounters and analyze and intervene in the health care of defined populations. The CHASM curriculum attempts to integrate the social perspective of community medicine with the clinical perspective of the primary care practitioner. Through the combination of classroom instruction, work in a unique computer laboratory integrating demographic, health and vital statistics data for all of New York City's census tracts, and structured field experiences in urban communities, students prepare for their future service as physicians in four distinct but related roles:

  • as clinicians who provide first contact, continuing, integrated health care to individuals and their families in urban communities;
  • as community health promoters who serve to protect the health of all people in a defined population;
  • as agents of change, working with the community to improve its residents' health by altering the social, biological, and physical environments and the distribution of health care resources; and
  • as researchers engaged in studies in primary clinical care, epidemiology, and social and institutional issues that affect the health of community residents.