Description of a Research-Based Health Activism Curriculum for Medical Students


  • No conflicts of interest to declare.

  • This work was presented as a poster at the 2004 National Society of General Internal Medicine Meeting and as a workshop and poster at the 2003 National Society of General Internal Medicine Meeting.

Address correspondence and requests for reprints to Dr. Cha: Committee on Government Reform, United States House of Representatives, 511 Ford House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515 (e-mail:


INTRODUCTION: Few curricula train medical students to engage in health system reform.

AIM: To develop physician activists by teaching medical students the skills necessary to advocate for socially equitable health policies in the U.S. health system.

SETTING: Montefiore Medical Center, the University Hospital of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY.

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: We designed a 1-month curriculum in research-based health activism to develop physician activists. The annual curriculum includes a student project and 4 course sections; health policy, research methods, advocacy, and physician activists as role models; taught by core faculty and volunteers from academic institutions, government, and nongovernmental organizations.

PROGRAM EVALUATION: From 2002 to 2005, 47 students from across the country have participated. Students reported improved capabilities to generate a research question, design a research proposal, and create an advocacy plan.

DISCUSSION: Our curriculum demonstrates a model for training physician activists to engage in health systems reform.