Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine | Nutley, NJ | Human Dimension Overview   

Human Dimension Overview

Human Dimension & Community Programs Annual Report 2023

The Human Dimension is at the heart of the SOM curriculum. Through the service-learning experiences and integrated curriculum, students come to understand the many Determinants of Health – this includes the Social Determinants of Health as well as the personal, economic, and environmental determinants. Determinants fall under several broad categories: policy, social factors, health services, behavior, biology and genetics, and access.

In the Human Dimension, pairs of SOM students are matched to families in the communities we serve. They follow these individuals, families, and communities longitudinally over the entire core curriculum, paying specific attention to three domains of health: social, behavioral, and medical.

The students develop a close relationship with the families and become involved in all aspects of family members’ health, including the individual’s life, family, and community.

Activities in this course include meeting with individuals and families in their communities and in various health care and community-based settings, meeting with peers and faculty mentors, and participating in small and large group teaching sessions.

The student teams are closely mentored by a faculty member who meets regularly with the student teams in a small group and review monthly themes as well as debrief and process the students’ experiences. Student case presentations and workshops also take place in this setting. Students’ work in the Human Dimension also provides the foundation for the scholarly capstone project all students complete in Phase 2.

Core focus areas will include:

  • Continuity of Care
  • Transitions of Care
  • Health Care Disparities
  • Determinants of Health broadly
  • Social Determinants of Health
  • Health outcomes
  • Community Systems
  • Social Services
  • Health Care Delivery systems
  • Integrative Medicine
  • Mental Health and Illness
  • Substance Abuse
  • Trauma
  • Housing and Food Insecurity
  • Professional identity formation

Longitudinal Content

The innovative curriculum at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine is designed with longitudinal integration of basic science content and its application in the clinical context.

The sequential Sciences/Skills/Reasoning (SSR) courses will integrate content from the Biomedical, Behavioral, Social, and Health System Sciences. Each week of Phase 1 begins with a Monday morning patient presentation. All content that is taught that week will then be scaffolded in a structured concept map built around the weekly patient presentation.

Because the practice of medicine occurs in an integrated manner and not in silos, rather than have stand-alone courses such as pharmacology, we teach pharmacology in a longitudinal manner throughout the 16-months of Phase 1. All content is taught in a way that is relevant to the clinical presentation of the week.

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