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Welcome to the Neighborhood: Service Learning to Understand of Social Determinants of Healthand Promote Local Advocacy

Service learning is defined as “a form of experiential education in which [learners] engage in activities that address human and community needs together, with structured opportunities for reflection designed to achieve desired learning outcomes1.” Service learning is a core, but under-practiced component of physicians’ professional responsibility, yet likely contributes to improved physician engagement in advocacy for “social, economic, educational, and political changes that ameliorate suffering and contribute to human well-being.Service learning can be expected to increase physicians’ awareness of social determinants of health – defined as the complex social structures and economic systems which impact conditions of daily life3 including the social and physical environment in which people live, as well as their access tohealthy food, water, resources and health services4. Because social determinants of health “are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources throughout local communities,” these non-biological determinants of health contribute to the perpetuation of disease and health disparities


Stacie Schmidt, Maura George, Jada Bussey-Jones

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