The Center for Medicine, Health and Society's fast-growing major helps students see 'the big picture in health care'
Katharine Donato, outgoing director of the Center for Medicine, Health and Society and chair of sociology, teaches a CMHS course at the Stevenson Science Center. (John Russell/Vanderbilt University)
by Jim Patterson in the Vanderbilt View
The school is still to be determined, but David Amsalem plans to start training to be a medical doctor this fall.
Although he’s not exactly sure where he’s going, Amsalem is confident that where he’s been provided excellent preparation. That’s the Center for Medicine, Health and Society, home of one of the fastest-growing undergraduate programs at Vanderbilt and locus of a movement to produce a new, better kind of medicine.
“I couldn’t have asked for better training and background,” said Amsalem, who has already worked as a paramedic and helped develop a medical emergency response system in Nepal. “It was perfect for me, someone who was interested in certain areas of public health but really wasn’t thinking of medical school when I was starting my undergraduate work.”
The undergraduate arm of CMHS has grown at a rapid clip since it debuted in 2003 championed by Matt Ramsey, its first director and associate professor of history. As the program prepares to welcome new director Jonathan M. Metzl this fall, it has grown from five majors in 2006 to more than 250 today.
“I had not expected it to grow so rapidly,” Ramsey said. “It came about because I noticed there were a lot of colleagues across the university who shared related interests in health and health care in a social context, but they didn’t know about each other.”
The center has since added a graduate program and with the arrival of Metzl is poised to dramatically expand its research component.