Health Systems Science

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Health Systems Science Office

Health Systems Science overview

Developing Systems Thinking in Medicine

A group of medical students are seen in a lecture room, talking together. Dr. Joshua Davis of Penn State College of Medicine is seen in the back, looking over the group.
Medical students discuss health systems science during a workshop.

The Penn State College of Medicine Health Systems Science Office is nationally recognized for its excellence in educating health care professionals in Health Systems Science. The office serves as a vital link between the missions of Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health.

The office seeks to equip the healthcare community to investigate, diagnose and treat health systems as they do patients by providing education in and evidence of the best health systems science clinical practices to the community.

Since 2014, more than 1,300 medical students, 100 physician assistant students, 20 chaplain residents, 100 resident physicians and nearly 200 faculty and staff at Penn State Health and Penn State College of Medicine have been educated in the principles of health systems science. The organization has been awarded over $2.5 million in grant funds and contributed to the publication of four textbooks that are now used in medical schools nationwide. Finally, in an effort to always keep patients first and foremost in mind, the College of Medicine and Penn State Health have established a program for medical students to work directly with patients to address healthcare inequities and social determinants of health from day one of medical school – a program that has now impacted over 4,300 patient lives.

Nested Applications

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Undergraduate Medical School Curriculum

Four students kneel in front of and five stand to the side of a poster project.
First-year medical students presented their health policy poster projects for the Science of Health Systems course. Kneeling, from left, are Niesha Savory, Luke Motter, Hasala Rannulu and Abdulla Sabry. Standing, from left, are Chad Grundy, Taryn Mcfadden, Sarah Sudlow, Sonya Fry and Leila Robinson.

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Curriculum Development

Four trainees stand by a table, two on either side, looking at a poster presentation
Trainees designed and implemented mock Quality Improvement projects for issues identified in weekly QI rounds.
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AMA Reimaging Residency Grant

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Graduate Medical Education learners use tools from design thinking to better comprehend Systems-Based Practice.

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EQUIP Council

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Staff and Faculty Development

Dr. Elizabeth Werley stands next to a white sheet of paper with illegible writing on it and looks off to her left while she speaks and points, with a blurred man in the foreground.
Dr. Elizabeth Werley helps document better workflow efficiencies during the resident pilot project Feb. 23, 2023.

In 2016, the Health Systems Science Office designed and launched the Health Systems Science Academy (HSSA), a year-long professional development program for Penn State Health faculty and staff to develop skills in health systems science. The longitudinal professional development program aims to improve the health systems science and teaching skills of educators and to advance clinical practice and health outcomes for the patients and populations served by Penn State Health.

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Health Systems Science in the College of Medicine Strategic Plan

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Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

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Request for Consultation

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The Health Systems Science Office regularly serves as consultants for U.S. medical schools and residency programs looking to implement health systems science curricula and patient experience programming. For a consultation at no fee, reach out to Director Dr. Ami DeWaters at

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Nested Applications

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The following textbooks had major contributions from members of our Health Systems Science Office.

  • Health Systems Science Review 1st Edition by Jesse M. Ehrenfeld MD MPH FASA (Author), Jed D. Gonzalo MSc MD (Author)
  • Health Systems Science 2nd Edition by Susan E. Skochelak MD MPH (Editor)
  • Health Systems Science Education: Development and Implementation (Volume 4) (The AMA MedEd Innovation Series, Volume 4) 1st Edition by Rosalyn Maben-Feaster MD MPH (Editor), Maya M. Hammoud MD MBA (Editor), Jeffrey Borkan MD PhD (Editor), Ami DeWaters MSc MD (Editor), Jed D. Gonzalo MSc MD (Editor), Stephanie R. Starr MD (Editor)
  • Value-Added Roles for Medical Students (The AMA MedEd Innovation Series) 1st Edition by Jed D. Gonzalo MSc MD (Author), Maya M. Hammoud MD MBA (Author), Gregory W. Schneider MD (Author)

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Student-Led Research

Meet Lydia Smeltz, third-year medical student at Penn State College of Medicine. Lydia’s story highlights how the Health Systems Science Office sponsors students to create curricula and health care delivery projects of their own.

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Latest News in Health Systems Science