Despite the increasing attention paid to the role of social forces in determining health, most physicians finish their training ill-prepared to address these issues. The authors describe their efforts to fill that training gap for internal medicine residents at Oregon Health and Science University through a community-based social medicine curriculum, designed in 2006 in conjunction with community partners at Central City Concern (CCC), an organization addressing homelessness, poverty, and addiction in downtown Portland, Oregon. The challenge was to develop a curriculum that would (1) fit within the scheduling constraints of an established categorical internal medicine residency program, (2) give all internal medicine residents a chance to better understand how social forces affect health, and (3) help show how they, as health professionals, might intervene to improve health and health care. The authors maintain that by developing this curriculum with community partners-who took the lead in deciding what residents should learn about their community and how they should learn it-the residency program is providing a relatively brief but extremely rich opportunity for residents to engage the personal, social, and health-related issues experienced by clients served by CCC.The authors first provide a brief overview of the curriculum and describe how the principles and practices of community-based participatory research were used in its development. They then discuss the challenges involved in teaching medical residents about social determinants of health, how their academic-community partnership approaches those challenges, and the recently established methods of evaluating the curriculum.
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