Patients, Populations, and Systems Courses

The George Washington School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS) seeks to graduate “clinician-citizens” who are prepared to deliver excellent patient care in 21st century health systems who can identify and address important health system, community and public health issues that impact the health of individuals and diverse populations. GW graduates are expected to engage with communities to improve health and promote health equity for local, national, and global communities; perform effectively on interprofessional-interdisciplinary teams; and serve as leaders and advocates to improve the health and lives of patients and communities. GW SMHS is one of the few US schools of medicine to offer comprehensive integrated public health, population heath and health systems science content into their MD curriculum.

The “Patients, Populations, and Systems” (PPS) courses are given over the first three semesters of the MD curriculum to facilitate students’ ability to integrate basic sciences, clinical care, and population health, health policy and public health with systems-based practice in order to promote the health of patients and communities as well as to improve the conditions and systems that impact them. PPS course content focuses on applied learning with weekly interactive class sessions, smaller group case discussions interspersed throughout, and experiential learning opportunities through topic-relevant Clinical Public Health Summits.

PPS-1: Fundamentals of Patients, Populations, and Systems – MD 1st Semester

The first course in the PPS curriculum, “Fundamentals of Patients, Populations, and Systems” provides students with foundational knowledge and skills for understanding and working in population health and health systems.

Sessions include:

  • US Health Care Delivery System and Workforce
  • Health Care Costs, Financing and Resource Allocation
  • Health Insurance and Payment Systems
  • Overview of Health Systems/Comparative Health Systems
  • US Public Health System
  • Law and Health Systems
  • Public Health Policy and Programs
  • Health Disparities among Populations
  • Research and Informatics as a Professional
  • Evidence-Based Practice at the Population Level
  • Community Engagement and Identifying Stakeholders
  • Interprofessional, Interdisciplinary, and Intersectoral Approaches to Improving Health
  • Big Data for Health Systems

PPS-2: Patients in Health Systems – MD 2nd Semester

The second course, “Patients in Health Systems,” integrates students’ knowledge of and skills in population health and health systems into the clinical setting with a focus on understanding and improving patient care systems.

Sessions include:

  • Access to Care and Health Care in Safety Nets
  • Healthcare Law
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Care Settings, Transitions of Care and Care Coordination
  • Digital Health and Clinical Informatics
  • Patient Safety and Quality Improvement
  • Cost and Value in Healthcare and Value-Based Care
  • Law and Quality in Healthcare
  • Evidence-Based Medicine session series

PPS-3: Applied Population Health – MD 3rd Semester

The third and final course in the PPS curriculum, "Applied Population Health," expands students' knowledge and skills in population health and health systems by challenging students to apply their learning to the case management of individual patients, engagement with communities, and engagement with the policy process. During the first half of the semester, students will use community violence as an extended case study to understand the various roles physicians may play in addressing a complex public health problem. During the second half of the semester, students will delve deeper into structural issues that are often the root causes of existing health disparities. The course combines a focus on problems that are relevant to DC with the option of students focusing on other local regions in the US they are personally connected to.

Sessions include:

  • The social determinants of community violence
  • Adverse childhood experiences and trauma-informed care
  • Addressing social needs in clinic
  • Community-based interventions to halt violence in DC
  • Creating evidence-informed policy to decrease community violence
  • Introduction to anti-racism
  • Community perspectives on institutional racism
  • Immigrant and refugee health
  • Accessing mental health services
  • Health systems issues of older adults with neurocognitive disorders and dementia
  • Accessing reproductive health services
  • Climate Change and global health