New Tufts University Program Prepares Medical Students for Careers in Underserved Communities

BOSTON (September 26, 2013) — Tufts University School of Medicine announced today a new initiative to train selected medical students to work in medically underserved areas and equip them with the tools to help patients and communities overcome barriers to health. Ten first-year medical students have been selected for the inaugural class of the Service Scholars Pathway Program and will receive specialized training in community medicine during their four years at Tufts University School of Medicine. 

“Through this new program, we are training physicians who will also be leaders with the vision and ability to partner with diverse communities to transform health care,” said Harris Berman, M.D., dean of Tufts University School of Medicine and professor of public health and community medicine. “Tufts University School of Medicine is proud to offer a new and unique program in realizing our mission to prepare our graduates to make meaningful contributions to individuals, communities, and the field of medicine.” 

“Many students go to medical school because they want to change the world, but interested students don’t always gain the experiences or skills they need to specialize in serving the underserved,” said Randy Wertheimer, M.D., Jaharis Family chair in family medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine, who developed and oversees the new program. “The new Service Scholars Program at Tufts will give these medical students the tools and the ability to go out and make a difference by helping those most in need.”  

Tufts Service Scholars will work with Boston-area communities directly over the course of their medical education at Tufts to develop a complex understanding of the needs, challenges and opportunities facing underserved populations. Students will also learn from one-on-one and group mentoring with physicians currently practicing in community health centers and other underserved settings, as well as multiple clinical experiences and a longitudinal project in a medically underserved setting oriented towards community-based research, intervention, or advocacy. 

The program features a competency-based curriculum that addresses themes of key importance to physicians practicing in communities with high levels of social and medical complexity, including: cultural competency; health disparities; specialized clinical skills, and experience; patient and community empowerment; and physician wellness. The new initiative also recognizes the importance of inter-professional collaboration in providing transformational health care, by prioritizing opportunities for the Service Scholars to work with doctors, nurses, social workers, nutritionists, interpreters, clergy members, and others. 

The Service Scholars Pathway Program is funded by generous gifts from the Bingham Trust and an anonymous donor, with funding supporting curriculum development and student scholarships.  

About Tufts University School of Medicine and the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences

Tufts University School of Medicine and the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts University are international leaders in innovative medical education and advanced research. The School of Medicine and the Sackler School are renowned for excellence in education in general medicine, biomedical sciences, special combined degree programs in business, health management, public health, bioengineering and international relations, as well as basic and clinical research at the cellular and molecular level. Ranked among the top in the nation, the School of Medicine is affiliated with six major teaching hospitals and more than 30 health care facilities. Tufts University School of Medicine and the Sackler School undertake research that is consistently rated among the highest in the nation for its effect on the advancement of medical science. 

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