Social and Health Systems 1 and 2 (SHS 1/2) are taught in weekly seminars throughout the first two semesters of medical school. These introductory courses cover three broad areas: (1) social, cultural, and historical forces that shape health, illness, and disease, the experiences of patients, and roles of physicians; (2) ethical dimensions of medical professional work and major issues in bioethics; and (3) health care reform and the organization, delivery, and financing of medical services. The course teaches students to think critically about social contexts and influences on health and medicine, and issues in health equity, ethics, and policy. Students write several papers during the year, engage in interactive seminar discussions, and hone oral presentation skills.

The 2-volume textbook for SHS 1/2 is The Social Medicine Reader, 3rd edition, Volume I, Ethics and Cultures of Biomedicine, and Volume II, Differences and Inequalities, edited by current and former faculty members of the Department of Social Medicine.

Sue Estroff is lead Course Director for Social and Health Systems 1/2. Jonathan Oberlander is SHS 1/2 Co-Course Director.