The Department of Humanities, Health, and Society aims to:
- Graduate clinically skilled physicians who understand and include non-biological factors in the diagnosis and treatment of disease
- Transform primary care and health care delivery through a household-centered approach to health
- Improve the health outcomes of local underserved populations.
We are committed to addressing local communities' health and socioeconomic needs through the award-winning Green Family Foundation Neighborhood Health Education Learning Program (NeighborhoodHELP).
The department's core faculty provide services across a spectrum of inpatient, outpatient, and neighborhood settings in South Florida, including FIU Health, local hospitals, mobile health centers, and households. The department's organizational structure promotes teamwork to prepare physicians to practice in the 21st century with three interrelated divisions.
HHS supports the HWCOM social accountability mission with educational programs for learners of all ages, including premedical pipeline programs, interprofessional student education, residency training, and faculty development.
Non-biological factors have the most critical impacts on health and the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and disease experience. The effect of non-biologic factors on health is a primary focus of the Medicine and Society strand of the HWCOM curriculum.
Medicine and Society
The Medicine and Society curriculum highlights ethics, cultural understanding, interprofessional teamwork, and the social determinants of health to prepare learners to be socially accountable, think ethically and critically, and incorporate the non-biological factors in the care of patients and communities.
Medicine and Society include integrated classroom, clinical, and household-based interprofessional activities to educate and train future health professionals. An innovative curricular feature of Medicine and Society is NeighborhoodHELP, where learners receive hands-on experience caring for and delivering services to underserved households.
The Green Family Foundation Neighborhood Health Education Learning Program (NeighborhoodHELP) is the platform for HWCOM's community-engaged mission emphasizing social accountability and interprofessional household-centered care.
Through this program, medical students are immersed in the community as members of interprofessional teams, including nursing, social work students, education, and law students, available per each household's identified needs. During household visits —which continue over three years—students take comprehensive patient and household histories and develop care plans to improve household members' health and quality of life. NeighborhoodHELP mobile health centers provide a broad range of integrated primary, preventive, and behavioral health services and chronic disease management. The Linda Fenner 3D Mobile Mammography Center provides breast health screenings for uninsured and underserved women throughout Miami-Dade County.
Unique to NeighborhoodHELP is a long-term engagement model that builds mutual trust with the target communities. An Outreach Team from the Division of Research, Policy, and Community Development is the vehicle by which NeighborhoodHELP establishes and maintains relationships with the neighborhoods and households served. Outreach workers serve as FIU ambassadors to the community and are the first contact with each neighborhood and household. Outreach workers recruit households for the program, facilitate communication between households and student teams, and broker services for households through an extended network of community organizations.
Humanities, Health, and Society Innovations
We prepare future physicians to collaborate in interprofessional teams to identify and help manage the social determinants of health that can improve health outcomes. Through NeighborhoodHELP, we leverage an extended network of academic and community partnerships to address the health and socioeconomic needs of the community.
We are working to demonstrate the impact of addressing the social determinants of health as an integral component of health care delivery. In recognition of the impact that social determinants of health have at the household level, we describe our approach to care as "household-centered care." This approach addresses and manages the social determinants that impact the health of the members of a household.
HWCOM has been recognized for the department’s innovative approach and programs. Examples are as follows:
- The Spencer Foreman Award for Outstanding Community Engagement— The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) selected Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine as one of three national finalists for the award. We were honored to be a finalist for this prestigious recognition. The award is presented annually to an AAMC-member medical school or teaching hospital with a long-standing, significant institutional commitment to partnering with the community it serves to identify and address community needs.
- Beyond Flexner Award — Beyond Flexner Alliance Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation Award for Excellence in Social Mission in Health Professions Education – Honored the Green Family Foundation Neighborhood Health Education Learning Program (NeighborhoodHELP) for Program Excellence in April 2020. The award recognized NeighborhoodHELP for demonstrating national leadership in integrating social accountability and interprofessional education through a service-learning experience in underserved communities.
- The 2018 George E. Thibault, MD NEXUS Award — The National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education honored NeighborhoodHELP with the 2018 George E. Thibault, MD NEXUS Award. The award recognizes exemplary interprofessional, team-based practice in the United States. The Nexus award celebrates those who are thinking and acting differently through innovation to connect higher education and health care. The National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education recognizes an educational institution, health system, clinic, and/or community organization for extraordinary contributions to transform care delivery, improve health outcomes, and decrease costs.
- Institute of Medicine Report — NeighborhoodHELP is featured in the Institute of Medicine Report: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. A framework for educating health professionals to address the social determinants of health. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2016.
- Healthy People 2020— NeighborhoodHELP was recognized on the Healthy People 2020 national website as an example of a local program for stories in Who’s Leading the Leading Health Indicators? NeighborhoodHELP Engages Underserved Communities to Increase Health Care Access. Healthy People In Action. Stories From the Field.
- Aspire-to-Excellence —The Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE) has twice recognized HWCOM's unique approach to medical education, which focuses on social accountability and the social determinants of health. In 2019, HWCOM became the first recipient of AMEE’s ASPIRE-to-Excellence Award for Inspirational Approaches to Health Professions Education. In 2016, HWCOM received the ASPIRE-to-Excellence Award in Social Accountability.
- American Medical Association Accelerating Change Consortium — In November 2015, HWCOM was selected as one of 20 U.S. schools to join the Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium. Together with an original group of 11 schools created in 2013, this national initiative is working to reshape how future physicians are trained and improve health outcomes. As a consortium member, HWCOM shares the transformation strategies of NeighborhoodHELP, including how the program integrates the social determinants of health and interprofessional practice in medical education and healthcare delivery.
- Association of American Medical Colleges Core EPA Pilot— HWCOM is one of ten schools participating in a pilot to develop curricula, assessments, and processes to entrust students to perform professional activities including interprofessional collaboration and informed consent.
- Sapphire Award — NeighborhoodHELP and its mobile health center services were selected as the only winner in the program category of the Florida Blue Foundation's prestigious Sapphire Awards in April 2014. The winning individuals, programs and organizations were selected from more than 100 nominees across the state. Winners were honored for excellence and innovation in nonprofit community health that resulted in a significant, positive impact on health-related outcomes for Florida's at-risk people and communities.