How med schools can equip doctors to help eliminate health disparities

The Health Disparities Podcast

Jan 17 2024 • 33 mins

Many people who go into medicine come from well-off families and don’t know what it’s like to live in poverty. So when they graduate and become physicians, they can struggle to understand why their therapeutic interventions aren’t improving the lives of their patients.

This, according to Dr. Pedro José Greer Jr., is because med schools have not done a great job helping their students understand the social determinants of health — the many nonmedical factors that influence health outcomes.

“It's not for the student physician to be able to resolve the social determinants, it's for them to really understand what they are,” Greer said. “Without understanding all these other things, we're not going to make [the] right therapeutic calls.

“The health outcomes in this country are embarrassingly bad,” he added. “So we have to be driven to improve those disparities.”

Greer is an American physician of Cuban descent and founding dean of the Roseman University of Health Sciences College of Medicine. He spoke with Health Disparities podcast host Claudia Zamora about how to improve medical education, why diversity matters, and why it’s critical that med schools train doctors to show compassion and empathy for their patients.

The conversation was recorded in person at the 2023 Movement Is Life annual Health Equity Summit.

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