The Importance of Understanding Social Determinants of Health as Medical Students: My Experience with the Cincinnati Homeless Coalition




Social Determinants of Health, Medical Students, Community Health Services, Homelessness, Health Disparities, Health Education, Public Health, Health Promotion, Housing, Primary Health Care, Housing Insecurity, Health Policy, Patient-Centered Care, Healthcare Disparities, Community Networks, Poverty, Healthcare Accessibility, Urban Health, Community Medicine, Health Care Reform, Social Support


Medical education traditionally emphasizes academic rigor, often at the expense of practical community engagement. This experience article describes my journey beyond the confines of a medical school's preclinical curriculum to engage with the social determinants of health through a partnership with the Cincinnati Homeless Coalition. My narrative begins with my initial foray into the community, detailing the inception and execution of a project aligned with the organization's mission to combat homelessness. I discuss the challenges encountered, propose enhancements to overcome these limitations, and reflect on the project's implications for future medical cohorts. The article underscores the value of understanding social determinants of health, such as socioeconomic status and education, and their influence on health outcomes. It advocates for the integration of community-based experiences in medical training, asserting that such involvement can enrich the educational journey of medical students by providing a broader perspective on healthcare needs and patient advocacy.


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The image is a flow chart that outlines the stages of project development, from conception to implementation. It begins with an "Assigned Community Partner," followed by a step to "Understand Community Partner Goals." The next step is to "Understand Association between Social Issue and Healthcare Impacts," indicating an analysis phase. Progressing from understanding, the next phase is to "Develop and Carry Out Project," which is the action stage. The final step in this process is to "Present Project at Symposium," signifying the culmination and reflection on the work completed. The flow chart demonstrates a structured approach to creating a project that addresses healthcare disparities in partnership with a community organization.


2023-11-21 — Updated on 2024-04-12

How to Cite

Dubbaka, S., & Lentz, T. (2024). The Importance of Understanding Social Determinants of Health as Medical Students: My Experience with the Cincinnati Homeless Coalition. International Journal of Medical Students, 12(1), 109–111.