Health Systems 2012

Welcome to the 2012 Health Systems Course.  (Click here for an overview of the course schedule)


Health Systems is one of the three "core courses" of the Social Medicine Curriculum set up at the RPSM in the early 1980's.  For many years it was taught by Dr. Hal Strelnick.  Beginning in 2011 Dan O'Connell and Matt Anderson became the course directors.  This is our second year teaching the course and we are slowly changing some of the content and teaching methods.  We look forward to input from you, our learners.

Structure of the Course

The organization of health systems is currently an area of intense public debate, not only in the US (where the Supreme Court is deliberating the ACA) but also internationally.  This course is built around the examination of health systems ranging from the local (our clinics and NYC) to the national and international.  Interwoven throughout these specific topics is the theme of activism and advocacy.  Approaching health systems from the perspective of changing them will require us to consider questions of political power and how change is made.

Here is the broad organization of the course:

1) The National Health Care System (Weeks 1-2): We will examine the debates over health care reform in the US and the recent history of attempts to change the US health care system.

2) The States and Health Care: (end of week 2):  Residents will prepare reports on different State health care systems to understand how these have evolved and what insight they can give to the national debates.

3) Health Care in New York City and in our clinics (roughly week 3): We will draw on local resources to understand the health system of the city, the role of the Department of Health and how community groups have impacted the health care system.  MMG2 clinical directors will offer us a look at how our Community Health Centers are run. Residents will be examining specific public health advocacy campaigns to see what has worked and what has not.

4) International Health (roughly week 4): We will look at the impact of neoliberal health policies as well as the diversity of health care systems internationally. 

5) Activism: Activism and Advocacy are woven throughout the entire month.  On Friday, May 4th we will be getting an abbreviated version of PNHP's speaker's workshop. This will prepare us for a trip to Albany on May 8th to participate in PNHP lobbying. 

 We recently learned that we have two extra days: May 29th and 30th.  We would like to plan these two days with you to explore specific topics in greater depth.

Structure of each day

The course will just run in the mornings with the exception of May 8th when we will go to Albany.  Generally speaking the morning will be divided into two 90 minute sessions. The first will run from 8:45 to 10:15. The second will run from 10:30 to noon.

For those of you who are interested in learning Street Medicine there will be a weekend long training on May 19th and 20th. This has been arranged by two Einstein students and is entirely optional. 

What we expect from you

 We expect you to come to class and to do the readings. We want you to listen critically and ask questions.

 Each resident will be responsible for preparing two to three 10 minute presentations during the course of the month:

1.     Week 2: The health system (or health innovation) undertaken at the state level

2.     Week 3: A public health activism campaign that was either successful or not.

3.     Week 4: The health care system of a foreign country (or) the health care system reforms promoted by international organization


Copies of Bodenheimer and Grumbach's Understanding Health Policy, 5th Edition will be available for borrowing. (Here is the Amazon link for those who are interested).  We will refer to chapters in this book as we go along in the course.

The Heart of Power by James Morone may also be useful in understanding how our health care system has evolved over the past half century.  Some copies of this book are also available. (Amazon Link)


Alice Teich

Amit Patel

Arash Nafisi

Carol Mendez

Gabriell H. Paskin

Hector R. Perez

James Huang

Janel E. L’Official

Jennifer Roth

Magni Hamso

Rachelle Darout

Ruth Christoforetti

Samuel Cohen

Shuchin J. Shukla

Sophia Feng

Swana De Gijsel


We will be conducting evaluations at the end of each week and a summative evaluation on May 25th.  This course is pass fail for students.