Sam W. Ho Health Justice Scholars Program


To develop physician-leaders and scholars with the mission, vision, and ability to transform healthcare in partnership with communities.


Many areas of the United States are medically underserved. In addition to lack of access to medical services, these communities often confront other significant barriers to health. Training physicians to work in these settings and providing them the tools to help patients and communities overcome these barriers is a responsibility of our medical education system. However, despite the fact that medical students enter training with a high level of altruism and a desire to serve, the number of physicians electing careers in underserved areas is still insufficient.

The goals of the Sam W. Ho Health Justice Scholars program is to train a select group of medical students who express an interest in serving the underserved such that these students:

  • Retain or increase their interest in working with the underserved as they proceed through medical training.
  • Develop a core set of attitudes, knowledge, and skills that will allow them to provide the highest quality of care to communities in which resources and access to care are limited, and in which there are significant barriers to health equity.
  • Become leaders in the area of working with medically underserved patient populations, initially for their fellow students, residents, and eventually in their chosen fields as clinicians, advocates, administrators, and researchers.
  • Are engaged in working with communities longitudinally, such that they develop an understanding that medically underserved populations, though facing significant challenges, are neither passive nor dependent. Rather, they are active and vibrant communities in a process of growth and change.

Additionally, the program will develop a learning community/collaborative between the medical school, students, and physicians actively practicing in underserved communities, and will expand research and teaching at the medical school relevant to the care of underserved patient populations.

The Sam W. Ho Health Justice Scholars program will meet these goals through a competency-based curriculum designed to address themes of key importance to physicians practicing in communities with high levels of social and medical complexity:

  • Cultural Competency
  • Health Disparities
  • Specialized Clinical Skills and Experience
  • Interprofessional Collaboration
  • Patient and Community Empowerment
  • Physician Wellness

Medical students will attain these competencies through a variety of methods:

  • On-on-one and group mentoring with a select and dedicated group of physicians currently practicing in community health centers and other underserved settings.
  • Participation in a structured curriculum of learning activities throughout the four years of medical school aimed at strengthening core knowledge, skills, and attitudes.
  • Multiple clinical experiences in underserved communities, including selectives, CAP, core clerkships, and elective experiences.
  • Completion of a longitudinal project in a medically underserved setting. This project can be oriented towards community-based research, intervention, or advocacy.