Social Medicine Fellows Program

What is Social Medicine Fellows Program?

Social medicine seeks to understand and influence the social, political, and economic factors that profoundly affect the health of individuals and communities. Given that up to 90% of health outcomes are determined by social factors, the importance of the social determinants of health in shaping the course of illness cannot be overstated. Health disparities are a major public health concern and injustice in the United States and globally, and the medical profession in particular has a responsibility to work to eliminate social inequities. The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s (UPSOM) Social Medicine Fellows Program (SMFP) is a new initiative that trains medical students for careers as leaders who bridge academic medical institutions and traditionally underserved communities. Medical students selected in their first year partner for the duration of their medical school training with an underserved community, where they participate in service learning, research, and advocacy in accordance with community needs and assets. Through their membership on the SMFP Advisory Board, representatives of UPSOM and community partners share stewardship of the educational process, which is guided by the principles of community-based participatory research and grounded in structural competency theory.


  • An advisory board of university representatives and community partners oversees the design and implementation of the SMFP.
  • A panel of research mentors guides SMFP fellows in their research endeavors in close collaboration with community representatives.
  • Two students from each class will be selected in their MS1 years. Each student partners with the same community for the duration of their training at UPSOM. Students will receive a small stipend per year to fund their service, research, and advocacy.


  • Applications are due the first week of January. Please refer to email announcement for exact date.
  • Applicants must have demonstrated successful completion of all coursework to the end of the first term.
  • A 500 word essay describing the applicant’s interest in the program, commitment to participation for three years, and goals to be realized during that period must accompany the application.

Selection of the Social Medicine Fellows

  • The advisory board will announce the fellowship recipients by January 31 each year. 

Student Roles and Responsibilities

  Period 1
March MS1 – December MS2
Period 2
January MS2 – December MS3
Period 3
January MS3 – April MS4
Recognizing the structures that shape clinical interactions
  • Clinical shadowing (CE)
  • QI project or clinical ethnography
  • Clinical shadowing
  • QI project or clinical ethnography
  • Narrative medicine publication
Developing an extra-clinical language of structure
  • DSRP or other summer programs
  • EBM course
  • Scholarly Project
  • Conference travel
  • Health Equity Journal Club
  • Scholarly Project
  • Social Medicine Grand Rounds
Rearticulating “cultural” presentations in structural terms
  • Asset based community development
  • Intro to Being a Physician presentation
  • Op-ed
  • Policy presentation
Observing and imagining structural intervention
  • Service-learning project
  • Service-learning project
  • Public health field practicum elective
Developing structural humility
  • Community and academic shared learning
  • Community and academic shared learning
  • Community and academic shared learning

Social Medicine Fellows Program Advisory Board

Thuy Bui, MD
Director, Social Medicine Fellows Program
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Yui Sugiura, DO
Co-director, Social Medicine Fellows Program

University of Pittsburgh Representatives:
Ann Thompson, MD, MCCM
Vice Dean
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Chenits Pettigrew, EdD
Assistant Dean of Student Affairs
Director of Diversity Programs
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Steven Albert, PhD, MS
Professor and Chair
Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

Community Representatives / Advisors:
Michael Yonas, DrPH
Sr. Program Officer, Research & Special Initiatives
The Pittsburgh Foundation

Fred Brown, PhD
President &  CEO
Homewood Children’s Village

Theresa Chalich, RN, MPH

Potential Faculty Research Mentors (among others):
Elizabeth Miller, MD, PhD
Sonya Borrero, MD, MS
Judy Chang, MD, MPH
Leslie Hausmann, PhD, CHERP/VA
Esa Davis, MD, MPH, FAAFP
Kevin Kraemer, MD, MSc

SMFP liaison with the Scholarly Program
Judy Chang, MD

A special thank you to the students who started SMFP
Alyssa Bruehlman
Claire Paduano
Collin Schenk
Breonna Slocum