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Humanities, Health and Society

Humanities, Health, and Society (HHS) is a clinically integrated interprofessional academic department at Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine (HWCOM).

We aim to:

  1. Graduate clinically skilled physicians who understand and include non-biological factors in the diagnosis and treatment of disease
  2. Transform primary care and health care delivery through a household-centered approach to health
  3. Improve the health outcomes of local underserved populations.

We are committed to addressing the health and socioeconomic needs of households in local communities 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 five interrelated divisions.


  • Division of Internal Medicine

    Internal Medicine and its subspecialties, including Geriatrics, Oncology/Hematology, Rheumatology, Gastroenterology, Pulmonology, Nephrology, Cardiology, Infectious Disease, Endocrinology, and Palliative Care provide medical student clinical education at diverse inpatient and outpatient sites, including Baptist Health South Florida, Jackson Memorial Hospital, Broward Health, Memorial Healthcare System, FIU Health, and multiple specialty settings across South Florida.

    Faculty in the division of Internal Medicine develop and manage the curriculum for the Internal Medicine Clerkship, the Clinical Skills courses, the Geriatrics Clerkship, and a variety of electives and subinternships. Internal Medicine faculty also direct The Benjamin Leon Jr. Family Center for Geriatric Research and Education and the FIU Hospitalist Program.

    Benjamin Leon Jr. Family Center for Geriatric Research and Education

    The Benjamin Leon Center for Geriatric Research and Education at Florida International University was made possible by a major gift to the University from the Benjamin Leon Jr. Family and Leon Medical Centers, a leading healthcare services provider to Medicare and dual eligible patients in South Florida. 

    FIU Hospitalist Program

    In partnership with Jackson Health System and Jackson Memorial Hospital (JMH), the FIU Hospitalist Program provides continuity of care for NeighborhoodHELP™ household members facing medical emergencies that require hospitalization. Upon discharge from JMH, patients will be transitioned back to their NeighborhoodHELP™ Primary Care Providers to ensure continued recovery. Similarly, underserved eligible patients who are admitted to the FIU Hospitalist Service will have the option to enroll in NeighborhoodHELP™. The FIU Hospitalist Service is a site for the Internal Medicine Clerkship. 

  • Division of Family and Community Medicine

    Family and Community Medicine faculty direct the curricula for the NeighborhoodHELP™ Community Engaged Physician Courses, the Primary Care Preceptorship, the Family Medicine Clerkship, the Family Medicine Subinternship, and the Family Medicine Residency and Sports Medicine Fellowship.

    The division’s interprofessional faculty teach in a variety of other courses across the HWCOM curriculum, support student activities through Panther Learning Communities, and engage collaboratively in scholarship with a focus on medical education, interprofessional care, the social determinants of health, and household-centered care.

    Family and Community Medicine faculty provide clinical care through NeighborhoodHELP™ mobile health centers and in a variety of outpatient, inpatient, and household settings.

  • Division of Policy, Research, and Community Development

    Policy, Research, and Community Development leads initiatives aimed at working collaboratively with communities to implement rational, creative, and empathetic strategies to improve health. Additionally, the division is responsible for developing and maintaining a community infrastructure that supports education, research, and clinical service.

    The division directs the Green Family Foundation NeighborhoodHELP™ Health Policy Analysis Academy, which is supported by the Aetna Foundation. The Academy is a key initiative that aims to create an infrastructure for sustained health policy research, training, and community healthcare capacity building. The objective of the Academy is to translate knowledge of the social predictors of health outcomes into “real-world” applications among an expanded network of healthcare and social service providers. The Academy promotes objective analysis and debate on population health questions of regional and national concern. Through the Academy we are investigating how 'value' can be assigned to specific strategies aimed at addressing the social determinants of health.

  • Division of Ethics, Humanities, and the Arts

    Ethics, Humanities, and the Arts creates, directs, supports, and investigates competency-based undergraduate, graduate, and continuing medical education in clinical and professional ethics, narrative medicine, humanism, and the healing arts. Commencing with the Ethical Foundations of Medicine, curricula is woven through all five curricular strands at HWCOM and years of the medical degree, including a four-year longitudinal curriculum in Advance Care Planning, in addition to co-curricular learning activities through the Panther Learning Communities.

    Curricular Education
    MD Degree
    Residency Education
    FIU Honors College

    Co-Curricular Education
    Gold Humanism Honors Society
    Medical Humanities Club
    Mammography Art Initiative
    HWCOM Gay-Straight Alliance

    Community Ethics Committees
    Jackson Memorial Hospital Ethics Committee
    Baptist Hospital Systems Ethics Committees
    Health Council of South Florida Ethics Committee
    Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Bioethics Committee
    Mt. Sinai Hospital Bioethics Committee

    Affiliate Associations
    Academy for Professionalism in Healthcare (APHC)
    Aging with Dignity
    American Board of Internal Medicine Project Professionalism (ABIM)
    American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH)
    Collaborative Institute Training Initiative (CITI)
    Feminist Approaches to Bioethics
    Florida Bioethics Network (FBN)
    Global Bioethics Initiative (GBI)
    Informed Medical Decision Making
    Institute of Medicine as a Profession
    International Association of Bioethics
    International Association for Education in Ethics
    International Conference on Clinical Ethics and Consultation (ICCEC)
    Program in Narrative Medicine, Columbia University


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 important impacts on health and on the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and experience of disease. The impact of non-biologic factors on health are 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 includes 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 novel program, medical students are immersed in the community as members of interprofessional teams, which include nursing and social work students, with 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, develop care plans to improve the health and quality of life of household members.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 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 point of contact with each neighborhood and household. Outreach workers recruit households for the program, facilitate communication between households and student teams, and broker services for the 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 social determinants of health-informed 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:

  • 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 Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine’s innovative curriculum was selected by the Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE) as one of four recipients of the ASPIRE-to-Excellence Award in Social Responsibility. Specifically, highlighted including the longitudinal Medicine and Society strand, NeighborhoodHELP™, and the Panther Learning Communities were cited as key features related to 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.
  • Selected Publications
    • Brown DR, Gillespie CC, Warren JB. EPA 9 - Collaborate as a Member of an Interprofessional Team: A Short Communication from the AAMC Core EPAs for Entering Residency Pilot Schools. Medical Science Educator. Published online 2016 June 2. doi: 10.1007/s40670-016-0273-4
    • Brown DR, Brewster LG, Commentary. The food environment is a complex social network. Social Science and Medicine. 2015 May;133:202-4. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.03.058.
    • Brewster L. Academic health centers and diversity "readiness". Southern Medical Journal. 2015;108(10):607. doi: 10.14423/SMJ.0000000000000351.
    • De Los Santos M, McFarlin CD, Martin L. Interprofessional education and service learning: a model for the future of health professions education Journal of Interprofessional Care. 2014 Jul;28(4):374-5. doi: 10.3109/13561820.2014.889102.
    • Rock JA, Acuña JM, Lozano JM, Martinez IL, Greer PJ Jr, Brown DR, Brewster L, Simpson JL. Health impact of an academic-community partnership for medical education: evaluation of a novel student-based home visitation program. South Medical Journal. 2014; 107(4):203-11. DOI: 10.1097/SMJ.0000000000000080.
    • Phillips L, Stewart RW. Commentary on ‘‘Impact of an Academic Community Partnership in Medical Education on Community Health: Evaluation of a Novel Student-Based Home Visitation Program’’ Southern Medical Journal 2014; 107(4):212-13. doi: 10.1097/SMJ.0000000000000081
    • Rock JA, Simpson JL, Dambach G, O’Leary JP, Markham S, Bagby L, Seecharan K, and Berkman RM. Florida international university: Development and accreditation of miami's public college of medicine. Academic Medicine. 2009;84(10):1454. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181b6c537.