This blog was originally posted in the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation Fall Newsletter on November 13, 2017.
Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) was the first institution to receive the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation Award for Institutional Excellence in Social Mission. We spoke with Valerie Montgomery Rice, MD, president and dean, to learn more about her institution’s efforts.
In your opinion, what does it truly mean when a school has a strong social mission?
I think about that question all the time. For me, when a school has a strong social mission it is leading the creation and advancement of health equity. I’ve boiled that down to mean giving people what they need, when they need it, and where they need it.
It goes beyond making sure our students have core medical knowledge. It is about ensuring our future clinicians understand the basic needs of the individual, the community, and the entire population. That means considering whether a patient can afford his or her co-pay, to understanding the barriers patients face with adequate housing, access to transportation and the ability to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. These social factors are often the greatest barriers to people being able to reach their optimal health. If a school has a strong social mission, it is embedding these health equity themes into all of its education and training.