Albert Einstein's (student-run) Social Medicine Course 2009

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doveThe schedule for the 11th year of the Social Medicine Course organized by students at Albert Einstein College of Medicine has just been announced.   The course, supported by the AECOM Division of Education, is designed to teach “Essentials of medical practice not taught in medical school.”

January 14: Integrating Prenatal Care with the Diagnosis and Clinical Management of HIV and Syphilis: A Latin American and Caribbean Initiative, Dr. Arachu Castro, PhD, MPH.  (Presented as part of the student-organized “Sex Week”)

Arachu Castro, PhD, MPH is a medical anthropologist trained in public health, working primarily in Latin America and the Caribbean on infectious disease (HIV/AIDS, TB, dengue) and sexual and reproductive health. She is Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Global Health & Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Project Manager for Mexico and Guatemala at the well-renowned NGO, Partners In Health, and Medical Anthropologist at the Division of Social Medicine and Health Inequalities at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA.

Her talk will present an update on the Latin America and Caribbean Prenatal Testing Initiative for HIV and Syphilis, which she directs in collaboration with UNICEF, UNAIDS, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) ? an Initiative currently including Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay, to identify barriers to testing for HIV and syphilis and scale up screening of HIV, syphilis, and other STDs during pregnancy in Latin America and the Caribbean.

January 21: Liberation Medicine, Lanny Smith, MPH, DTM&H, FACP (will start at 7PM) This talk has been rescheduled to May 12.

January 28: Social Medicine 101, Matt Anderson, MD, MSc

Dr. Anderson is a family physician working in the Department of Family & Social Medicine at Montefiore Hospital/AECOM.  He runs the Social Medicine Portal ( and co-edits an bilingual, online academic journal Social Medicine (  In this talk he will discuss the core concepts of social medicine and how they have been developed and put into practice over the past 300 years.

February 4: Health Literacy, Jennifer Adams, MD & Fatima Ashraf, Mayor’s Office

February 11. Harm Reduction in the Bronx: Hepatitis & IV Drug Users, Donald Davis, VHIP

VHIP is the Viral Hepatitis Intervention Program, a government-funded harm reduction program geared towards education and prevention of viral hepatitis in the Bronx community. It is primarily run by NYHRE (New York Harm Reduction and Education) and AECOM faculty (Dr. Alain Littwin and Dr. Melissa Stein of the Department of Medicine.) Students are closely supervised by AECOM faculty, Irene Soloway and NYHRE supervisor Donald Davis, as they assist in giving vaccinations and phlebotomy, as well as providing health education and counseling to program clients.

Donald Davis is the VHIP Coordinator at New York Harm Reduction Educators. He has been in the field of HIV and Harm Reduction for over ten years, having presented at numerous Hepatitis C conferences at the local, state and national level. He works with Irene Soloway, a Physician Assistant at Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Division of Substance Abuse, in overseeing and supervising students in provide testing, vaccination and referral services to active drug users and supervise AECOM medical students at one of the NYRE syringe exchange outreach sites in Hunts Point.

The talk will introduce the concept of harms reduction with a focus on hepatitis C and how community-based screenings have affected the current situation. New York City has a higher prevalence of hepatitis C than the entire United States overall. Hepatitis C is also the most commonly reported type of viral hepatitis in NYC. Donald will address some of the issues that might be related to such a high prevalence, including incarceration, socioeconomic factors, HIV/AIDS, immigration and migration, drug and alcohol use, and hepatitis B. This talk will also cover how interventions, such as testing, vaccinations, referral services, and needle exchange programs have made an impact on hepatitis C rates as well as future interventions that can be implemented at the local community level.

February 18: Gun Violence, Jackie Hilly, NYAGV

What should the medical community know about gun violence prevention? This presentation will explore the legislative initiatives on gun violence, the public health approach to gun violence, and youth development models.

February 25: Physicians and the Pharmaceutical Industry, Joseph Ross, MD, MSH

Dr Ross will discuss the many ways physicians and the pharmaceutical industry interact and work together. He will describe how common these interactions are, and what their implications.

March 4: National Health Insurance for the US: Has Its Time Come? Oliver Fein, MD

This presentation includes a history of health insurance in the United States; a review of health care macroeconomics – where we spend our health care dollars and how we raise the revenue to pay for those expenses; an outline of the five fundamental problems facing the U.S. health care system; and, a description of single payer national health insurance and how it addresses those fundamental problems.

March 11: Environmental Justice and Climate Change Health Effects, Perry Sheffield, MD

March 17 (Tuesday): Women’s Health is a Family Value: A History of Reproductive Health Policies in the US, Carol Roye, EdD, RN, CPNP

Carol Roye is a Professor of Nursing at Hunter College in New York City and a practicing pediatric nurse practitioner in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York. Dr. Roye’s research focuses on reproductive health issues pertinent to adolescents, including teen pregnancy prevention and working with mothers of pregnant and parenting teens to improve outcomes for their daughters. She is currently at work on a book which examines the genesis of current, unfavorable reproductive health policies and the adverse impact they have on child health in the U.S. and overseas.

March 18: Interactive Session: Novel Health Care & Sustainable Living, Frank and Bonnie Gifford, MD [This session has been postponed]

Bonnie and Frank Gifford run EntropyPawsed, a nature linked low energy living demonstration site located in the mountains of West Virginia. Their vision is to endeavor to develop a strong positive vision of the future and the personal qualities of strength, courage, wisdom, and perseverance necessary to make a positive vision reality. The Entropy Pawsed mission is to offer educational opportunities demonstrating simplicity in living with a deep ecology perspective so that we may leave a reasonable world for all children of future generations. An Einstein student, Michelle, who has studied with them, has organized a unique experience for students of the Social Medicine Course: and interactive distance-learning session, where we will practice the low-energy ideals and communicate “live via satellite” style and discuss how to incorporate sustainable practices into our future careers.

March 25: The Asian American Diabetes Epidemic, Perry Pong, MD

Despite having a lower body weight, Asian Americans are more likely than Caucasians to have diabetes. Diabetes is a rapidly growing health challenge among Asians and Pacific Islanders who have immigrated to the United States, affecting about 10 percent of Asian Americans; about 90 to 95 percent of Asians with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. Come learn about how this devastating disease has hit a seldom-discussed ethnic group – Asian Americans – and the active research that is underway to stop this epidemic.

April 1: Separate and Unequal:  Medical Apartheid in NYC, Neil Calman MD & Nisha Agarwal, JD

Bronx Health REACH, established in 1999, includes 40 community and faith-based organizations dedicated to eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities in health outcomes. In addition to its advocacy efforts, the group sponsors community health promotion and disease prevention programs, with support from the Centers for Disease Control and the NYS Department of Health. REACH is a project of the Institute for Family Health, a nonprofit organization that operates health centers and trains health professionals to work in urban, medically underserved communities in New York State. New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI) is a nonprofit civil rights law firm that strives for social justice. NYLPI has worked with the Coalition on this issue for several years.

April 22: Health Consequences of Immigration Detention, Homer Venters, MD

Over 300,000 people are detained each year in the United States by Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE). These detainees are held in a wide variety of public and private jails, prisons and contract facilities but face the common problem of inadequate medical care. ICE is under no legal mandate to provide an acceptable standard of medical care, or to track and report adverse medical events for detainees. In addition, the health plan that governs much of the medical care received by detainees is inadequate and unethical. Analysis of this health plan, as well as the circumstances around a number of detainee deaths, reveals a system lacking medical sufficiency

April 29: War and Public Health, Victor Sidel, MD

May 6: Integrative and Botanical Medicine, Roberta Lee, MD

TUESDAY, May 12th: “Liberation Medicine,” Lanny Smith, MD, MPH, DTM&H, FACP

Talks (unless noted otherwise above) will take place on Wednesday evenings from 5:30 to 6:30 PM in the Forchheimer 5th floor lecture room. Dinner is provided.


The social medicine course, now in its 11th year, is one of the highlights of the activism by the students at AECOM.  There are over a dozen student groups at Einstein involved in questions of social justice.  They work together as part of the Einstein Umbrella.  One of the members of the umbrella is the ECHO clinic, a free clinic established by AECOM students in 1999.  This model has been followed at a number of other NYC medical schools (see our posting on Free and Low Cost Health Care in NYC).

This posting will be periodically updated as we get information from the course organizers about the details of each of the talks.

For information on similar courses in US medical schools, consult Public Citizen’s listing of health activism courses.

This posting was updated on 2/5/2009 to incorporate information about the talks.

Posted by Matt Anderson, MD

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1 Response to “Albert Einstein's (student-run) Social Medicine Course 2009”

  1. 1Bidibule

    I will attend this presentation with Dr Julian next Thursday

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