Children’s HealthWatch Principal Investigator, Dr. Megan Sandel, recently wrote a Medical-Legal Partnership blog post on how future health professionals can put Children’s HealthWatch research into action.

Training the 21st century health professional to take the social determinants of health vital sign

For one week in December, a group of Boston University medical students ate only food they could buy for $1.40 per meal, spending roughly $30 for the week.  (Read full story.)  Why would medical students do this?  Because with the November cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), $1.40 per meal is how much 47 million patients often spend to feed themselves and their families.  This exercise was a small chance for students to understand the challenges of the patients they are likely to see over and over again as doctors, to recognize the tradeoffs people make for basic needs and the stress and poor health poverty causes.

In an Academic Pediatrics article, Dr. Melissa Klein, Dr. Dan Schumacher and I argue that medical students and residents should be able and required to assess and intervene in social conditions, from hunger to inadequate housing, as a viable part of any treatment plan.  In the supplement, we lay out vignettes illustrating the differences in competencies from a totally rote uninformed pediatric resident in level one to a fully engaged community networked physician in level five.

Click here to read the full blog post.