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Derek Nye, a medical scientist training program student from Penn State College of Medicine, prepares a syringe to give a COVID-19 vaccine. Nye is wearing glasses and a face mask.

Health Systems Science

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 Health Systems Science Office is 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.

The organization’s vision is to become a recognized national leader in using health systems science to power healthcare delivery so that all may “master and design rather than cope with and fight the systems in which we care for patients.”

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.

HSS Courses Experience and Training

Curriculum

In a large classroom, medical students sit with chairs facing each other in groups of three of four as they participate in a simulation activity.
First-year medical students participate in a simulation activity to prepare for the patient experience program in April 2023.

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Patient Experience

 First-year medical student Carly Brogan, standing at right, talks with patient Robert Gibbs, who is sitting in a retirement village room.
First-year medical student Carly Brogan checks in with patient Robert Gibbs, a resident at Oak Hill Retirement Village, in March 2023.

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Educator Training

Four residents wearing face masks sit at a table, with the third from the left in focus; she is gesturing and looking ahead.
Medicine/Pediatrics residents participate in training related to systems-based practice in February 2023.

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