Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Institute for Public Health and Medicine

National Collaborative for Education to Address the Social Determinants of Health

The Center for Primary Care Innovation is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Academic Units for Primary Care Training and Enhancement (AU-PCTE). The purpose of the AU-PCTE is to strengthen the primary care workforce through improved clinical teaching and research. HRSA's mission is to improve and achieve health equity through access to quality services, a skilled health workforce and innovative programs. 

The National Collaborative for Education to Address the Social Determinants of Health (NCEAS) is a community of practice for people who are interested in training the health workforce about the social determinants of health. By bringing educators together to share best practices and ideas, gain new skills and learn from each other, the NCEAS seeks to stimulate and support enhanced teaching and learning about social determinants of health. In addition to our community of practice, our team of faculty, staff and students are conducting research to enhance training on the social determinants of health and its impact on learners and patient populations. 

In the following video, Stephen Persell, MD, MPH, director of the Center for Primary Care Innovation and co-principal investigators, discusses the goals of the collaborative.

Read Video Transcript


Social Determinants of Health

Social, cultural and economic factors exert powerful influences on health outcomes and produce large disparities in health between groups along socioeconomic, racial and ethnic, and cultural lines. The drivers of these disparities include differences in:

Changes in the social determinants of health likely lead to changes in population health that are as great, or greater than those brought about by major medical advances.

Primary Care Education 

Training in longitudinal primary care settings may be the optimal way to teach about the social determinants of health, especially situating training diverse community settings. While some programs have published their content and structure, none has been rigorously studied to demonstrate its effectiveness. Because such immersive education is more resource intensive than simple didactic instruction, demonstrating its comparative efficacy is necessary.

Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine's Educational-Centered Medical Home (ECMH) is a novel, comprehensive educational program that exposes students to team-based medicine in an authentic outpatient environment and empowers students to take charge of patients longitudinally over their medical career. Read more about how we are studying the impact of this model below or read more about the program at the ECMH website.

Primary Care Workforce 

By 2030, the U.S. will have a shortage of 7,300 to 43,100 primary care doctors, according to the AAMC. U.S. and international studies show that increased access to and availability of primary care is associated with less morbidity and mortality, lower costs of care, higher quality of care and fewer disparities across the population. The exposure that medical students and other trainees receive early in their careers may have an important effect on their subsequent chosen field of practice, and whether or not they practice in underserved communities. 

Upcoming Events 

Join us for a free online presentation on Wednesday, October 25th, 2017 from 11:00a-12:00p (CST) on "Education students about chronic care and the social determinants of health: Diffusing a training model across departments, practices and towns." Register here

For more information, please consult our event flyer by clicking here.

Our Projects

Learn more about our current projects via the links below.

Fellow AU-PCTE Grant Awardees

The AU-PCTE is a cooperative agreement between HRSA and selected units, each focusing on a specific aspect of education in primary care. Northwestern is one of six units selected, including: 


Virtual Patient Training Modules

The Community Action Poverty Simulation

Health and Well-Being for All Meeting-in-a-Box

Project Directors

Stephen Persell, MD, MPH, headshot

Stephen Persell, MD, MPH
Director of the Center for Primary Care Innovation


Deborah Smith Clements, MD
Program Director of the Northwestern McGaw Family Medicine Residency at Lake Forest 

Call for Collaboration

Interested in learning more or collaborating? Contact us.

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