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HSS - Health Systems Science Intensive Course

Medicine is not a science. It uses science in the service of disease prevention, health promotion, and healing of those with disease. Western medicine is strongly rooted in scientific inquiry, testing, and application, but excellence in the practice of medicine requires diverse tools in addition to biomedical science, including knowledge and skills in ethics, law, economics, public policy, social medicine, and population health, in order to understand how these domains impact both individual patients and populations. It is fundamentally based on a commitment to a broad notion of health care which encompasses not only the treatment of disease, but the prevention of illness and a commitment to care even when disease cannot be effectively treated. 

HSS is a longitudinal set of courses in bioethics, law, population health, epidemiology, healthcare policy, and related disciplines that runs throughout the MS1 year, designed to help you acquire the tools beyond the basic sciences that you will need to become an outstanding physician. It emphasizes reasoning and analytical skills as they apply to bioethics, law, population health, and healthcare policy. HSS contains six intensives: Ethics, Equity, & Professionalism; Population Health & Preventive Medicine; Epidemiology, Biostatistics, & Study Design; Health Policy I, Finance & Delivery; Health Policy II, Law & Advocacy; and Health, Humanities, & Arts. Throughout the intensives, students will meet regularly with peers and expert faculty facilitators from the Center for Bioethics and Humanities and the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine to engage in case-based small group discussion. All cases begin with an encounter between patient and physician and work outward to a discussion of health systems, policy and social accountability. Lectures and large group sessions reinforce skills and content from small group sessions. Self-directed learning, in the form of independent preparation for small group discussions, is expected. Assessment is based upon small group participation, performance on multiple-choice examinations, group presentations, and written assignments. 

HSS is organized by the Center for Bioethics and Humanities and the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine. The HSS Curriculum Co-Directors are Rachel Fabi, PhD, Bioethics and Humanities, and Travis Hobart, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Public Health and Preventive Medicine. 

Course Objectives 

  1. Students will be able to appreciate the complexities and dynamics of the patient-physician relationship, including the psychological, social and economic impact of illness on patients and their families.
  2. Students will be able to analyze a clinical case in terms of socioeconomic, behavioral, cultural and environmental determinants of health and explain their impact on overall health status.
  3. Students will be able to analyze the burden and distribution of disease in a population using epidemiologic tools and principles.
  4. Students will be able to recognize and address the healthcare needs of the population that they serve. 
  5. Students will be able to formulate a case analysis with arguments and reasons for recommending or choosing one course of action rather than another in light of the ethical, legal and social aspects of a clinical situation.

Contact Amy Caruso Brown at brownamy@upstate.edu.

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