BOX 2-5 Behavioral and Social Science Education in the Medical School Curriculum of the University of North Carolina

The Department of Social Medicine is the primary source of behavioral and social science education for medical students at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Behavioral and social science material is integrated as a content theme across several courses in the curriculum and is taught as a content theme in six required courses: two in year 1 and four in year 2 (see table that follows).

In the Medicine and Society course, offered through the Department of Social Medicine in year 1, there are no examinations, but students are required to participate in creative writing assignments and engage in group discussions that teach a habit of critical reflection using the tools of the social sciences and humanities. Cultural diversity, end-of-life care, and medical social economics are some examples of the behavioral and social science topics discussed in the course. Selection of small-group leaders for the Medicine and Society course is fairly competitive and requires a strong commitment from faculty as both active learners and teachers. Despite the requirements, many members of the faculty are willing to make the necessary commitments to teach this course. An interdepartmental course that complements Medicine and Society—Introduction to Clinical Medicine—is directed by the dean's office. The faculties that teach both courses are careful to distinguish between the courses: Medicine and Society is not trying to teach specific skills, and Introduction to Clinical Medicine is not attempting to teach social science theory or concepts; rather, the two courses run in parallel and draw from each other. This sort of coordination is facilitated by the dean's office, which brings course directors together on a monthly basis.

From: 2, Current Approaches to Incorporating the Behavioral and Social Sciences into Medical School Curricula

Cover of Improving Medical Education
Improving Medical Education: Enhancing the Behavioral and Social Science Content of Medical School Curricula.
Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Behavioral and Social Sciences in Medical School Curricula; Cuff PA, Vanselow NA, editors.
Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2004.
Copyright © 2004, National Academy of Sciences.

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