New Competency Focus Involves Structural Factors in Health

American Medical Association
By Timothy M. Smith
December 18, 2020

A lot is made of social determinants of health—for good reason—but many medical schools have yet to catch up with this defining feature of American life. To achieve health equity in the U.S., one physician expert says, there’s a new domain—“structural competency”—that must find its way into the curriculum.

“Why this moment to roll out the language of structural competency?” said Helena Hansen, MD, PhD, professor and chair of translational social science at the University of California, Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine. “We know the terrible statistics on the poor return on investment that we get for what we pay for health care in this country. And clinicians know that it's due to social and systemic factors. But they don't know what to do about it.”

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