Public Health Scholars Programs

Analyzing structural and social determinants of health in order to to effect change and promote health justice

Fall 2014 – Spring 2015

“Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  ~ Margaret Mead

The AMSA Academy Scholars Program in Public Health will help AMSA members develop tools of public health analysis and action to examine and address the structural and social determinants of health. The program will include a series of interactive, faculty-led webinars, with leading scholars in the innovative field of “structural competency”. Through an examination of history and modern day case studies, students will develop a framework for understanding community health needs, the roots of health inequity, and avenues for action to improve population health at the structural and systemic level. Students will also be asked to start a year-long community engagement project in their local area (the community could include their medical school class, their academic institution, their local community, or even an issue-based national community). The students will be asked to plan, implement and evaluate this program with guidance from the Public Health Scholars Coordinator.

Tentative Curriculum

Topics may include:

  • Developing a critical understanding of health care system using a structural competency framework
  • Historical roots of racism and exclusion in health care
  • Neighborhood health and housing policy
  • School to prison pipeline
  • Nutrition and obesity
  • Access to generic medicines and global health
  • Occupational health and labor law
  • Immigrant health and history of immigration policy
  • Examining power dynamics in community Partnerships
  • Women’s health and access to care
  • Structural Competency in medical education: avenues for curricular reform
  • Physician action at the structural/systemic level

Learning Objectives

By the end of the year, students should be able to:

  • Identify and describe one major public health topic and how it impacts their local community
  • Identify the historical and policy determinants of that topic
  • Define the community that they are working with and identify at least one community partner
  • Identify and analyze the race, gender and class dimension of this partnership
  • Develop a plan for addressing the issue at hand; implement and evaluate the plan
  • Involve community members in as much of the planning, implementation, and evaluation as possible given the time constraints

Program Structure

The Public Health Scholars Program includes four main components:

  • Bimonthly faculty-led webinars with accompanying short readings or video clips
  • Student-led topic discussions following the webinars
  • Plan, implement and evaluate a local community capstone project
  • Submit a write-up and evaluation of their project for AMSA Academy to review for certification

Tentative Schedule


Participant Expectations

  • Attend bimonthly online webinars
  • Participate in the 15 minute student-led discussions following the webinars
  • Complete short readings or watch video clips prior to the webinar sessions
  • Plan, implement and evaluate a local community capstone project
  • Submit a write-up of their project including evaluation materials for AMSA Academy to review
  • Fill out evaluation surveys upon completion of the program

Overall expected time commitment for program, including community project, is 2-3 hours per week.

Who Should Apply?

Medical and premedical students who are interested in topics related to public health, health justice and the social and environmental determinants that underlie health disparities are encouraged to apply.

Each Public Health Scholar must be a member of AMSA at the start of the program. Information about registration and membership is available here.

Program Registration

Registration is now closed.

AMSA Student Member $35
Non-Member $135*

* Non-member fee includes AMSA membership, if applicable