Curriculum Highlights: Health Equity and Disparities

Health Equity and Disparities is a critical focus for all of our students’ learning experiences at UMMS. The curricular elements emphasize the role that our profession and practitioners must play in addressing equity and factors that contribute to disparities in every patient encounter.

The approach we take at UMMS is to weave core learning about health disparities throughout the preclinical and clinical curriculum, while also allowing students to explore service and research projects in partnership with numerous organizations and with individual faculty.

Examples of core curricular content:

  1. Site visits to community clinics that focus on care of the underserved in Ann Arbor and environs.
  2. Longitudinal Case discussions that address environmental and socioeconomic factors that contribute to health disparities.
  3. Family-Centered Experience Program, where students work directly with families as they encounter the healthcare delivery system, and struggle with the impact of disparities on their lives.
  4. A Rural Poverty overview, tied together with group projects.
  5. Seminars during the clinical years on working with low-income patients, and understanding how to mobilize systems-based resources to address their needs.
  6. Core clinical experiences during the M3 year in Federally Qualified Health Centers and other Community Clinics.

Examples of elective and volunteer opportunities:

  1. Service-learning and international projects with student participation during the summer between M1 and M2 years.
  2. Electives in the M2 year on Poverty and Health, Global Health and Health Disparities, and Care of the Underserved.
  3. Learning to work with medical interpreters and developing second language competency to help care for patients of diverse backgrounds.
  4. Volunteering at different community-based clinics in Ann Arbor and environs (e.g., HOPE Clinic, Delonis Shelter Clinic).
  5. M4 Elective on Care of the Underserved, combining clinical experiences with readings and seminars to fully develop an in-depth understanding of health disparities as they apply to our local patient communities.
  6. Numerous opportunities for clinical, research and community service electives during the M4 year in both the international and local settings.

Longitudinal Paths:

Some students may wish to pursue opportunities that allow them to deepen their understanding and skills in health equity and disparities:

  1. The Global Health and Disparities Path of Excellence is an optional, longitudinal, mentored set of learning experiences and independent field project for students interested in leadership roles in the care of vulnerable populations in the United States and developing countries.
  2. There are opportunities to pursue a dual-degree program, including a Master’s in Public Health or Master’s in Public Policy (

Institutional and Student Organizations:

  1. University of Michigan Center for Global Health – a campus–wide organization that generates novel approaches and partnerships to improve health and redress pressing health inequalities across the globe. (
  2. Global REACH – an institutional program to facilitate health research, education, and collaboration among the University of Michigan Medical School faculty, students, and our global partners for the benefit of communities worldwide. (
  3. Galens Medical Society – a student run organization that serves the children of Washtenaw County (
  4. Health Equity Scholars Program – an M1 and M2 student-run organization that promotes an interdisciplinary deeper understanding of issues of equity and social justice in health care.
  5. Care of Underserved Student Group – a student-run organization that focuses on poverty in the United States and how UMMS students can better develop an understanding of the knowledge, skills and professional attributes required to care for these populations.
  6. Numerous student organizations that address diversity and provide opportunities to work with populations that experience health disparities, including:
    • American Medical Student Association
    • American Medical Women's Association
    • Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, and Allies in Medicine
    • Black Medical Association
    • Latin American and Native American Medical Association
    • Muslim Medical Student Association
    • United Asian American Medical Student Association