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Acad Med. 2018 Jan;93(1):20-24. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001678.

Communities, Social Justice, and Academic Health Centers.

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P.M. Alberti is senior director, Health Equity Research and Policy, Association of American Medical Colleges, Washington, DC. K.M. Sutton is lead specialist, Health Equity Research and Policy, Association of American Medical Colleges, Washington, DC. L.A. Cooper is professor of medicine and director, Johns Hopkins Center to Eliminate Cardiovascular Health Disparities, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, and vice president for health care equity, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland. W.G. Lane is associate director, Preventive Medicine Residency Program, associate professor, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, and Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland. S. Stephens is clinical instructor and director, B'more for Healthy Babies Upton/Druid Heights Program, University of Maryland School of Social Work, Promise Heights, and adjunct faculty, Morgan State University School of Social Work, Baltimore, Maryland. M.A. Gourdine is clinical assistant professor of pediatrics and of epidemiology/preventive medicine, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Maryland School of Medicine, and senior associate, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.


In November 2015, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) held its annual meeting in Baltimore, Maryland. In response both to health and health care inequities faced by residents of Baltimore and to the imminent trial of the police officers charged with Freddie Gray's death, AAMC leaders thought it crucial to address issues of health inequity, social injustice, and the role an academic health center (AHC) can play in improving the health of the community it serves. In collaboration with community-engaged researchers from Johns Hopkins University and University of Maryland, Baltimore, AAMC staff interviewed Baltimore residents, soliciting their perspectives on how medical education, clinical care, and research can and should respond to social injustice and the social determinants of health. The authors used the resulting videoed interviews to frame a conversation during the annual meeting aimed at developing concrete actions that an individual, an institution, or the AAMC can take to address social injustice and health inequities in the Baltimore community and beyond. The robust conversation and the action steps identified by participants led to the development of a toolkit to build the capacity of AHCs and their communities to engage in similar, action-oriented programming. The success of the conversation inspired future meeting sessions that purposefully incorporate community voices and expertise. This Perspective presents results of this action planning and places the proposed set of activities within the current health care context to demonstrate how community expertise and wisdom can inform and advance efforts to improve the health of all.

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