What does it mean to go to a school that integrates public health into medical education?

At the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH) in Madison, we believe that no matter what field of medicine a graduate pursues or where he or she practices, integrating public health with clinical medicine will contribute to healthier patients and a more rewarding medical career. Promoting health is about more than providing clinical services to individual patients.

Our graduates learn to diagnose and treat entire communities, building on Wisconsin's own model for population health - the County Health Rankings. Students learn about the upstream factors that affect the health outcomes, such as personal behaviors, health care quality and access, social, cultural and economic factors, and the built and natural environment.

Several national organizations, including the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Institute of Medicine, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have called for the inclusion of a population health perspective in the education of all physicians.

In 2005, the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine changed its name to the School of Medicine and Public Health, a reflection of our commitment to this approach. We are proud to be a national leader in the move to integrate clinical medicine with public health perspectives in medical education.

Learn about our integrated public health curriculum

The MD Program legacy curriculum at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health integrates public health throughout the four years.

The legacy curriculum includes:

  • A population health course where students learn epidemiology, biostatistics and public health principles
  • A two-year series of Public Health Integrative Cases where students explore specific public health issues and how physicians can promote health and wellbeing for both individuals and populations that extend beyond traditional ideas of clinical medical care
  • Coursework that includes public health ethics and other public health topics
  • Third year primary care clerkships and fourth year preceptorships throughout the state in which students perform community health assessments and engage in community health projects
  • "Core Days" for third and fourth-year students which include a systems-based approach to patient care
  • Fourth-year electives covering an array of public health issues including health policy, prevention, teamwork and advocacy
    For selected students, two innovative programs provide a focus on public health in rural and urban populations.

Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine (WARM)

The Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine (WARM), directed by Byron Crouse, MD, is a unique, rural core curriculum program integrated into the MD program. WARM was started in 2004 and now admits 25 students per year.

The goal of WARM is to ultimately help increase the number of physicians who practice medicine in, and help improve the health of, rural Wisconsin communities. Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine students spend their first two years in Madison following the preclinical curriculum with additional electives, seminars, and interest groups in rural medicine.

They can begin community-based projects between their first and second years of medical school. They relocate during their 3rd and 4th years to small rural community sites in partnership with our regional clinical campuses.

Training in Urban Medicine and Public Health (TRIUMPH)

Training in Urban Medicine and Public Health (TRIUMPH) was established in 2009 to prepare medical students to become community-responsive physicians committed to promoting health equity for urban underserved populations. The program combines clerkships, preceptorships and electives with community and public health experiences, integrating clinical medicine with public health training in Milwaukee.

Students apply for TRIUMPH during their second year of medical school. Eight students are selected to participate in the full 3rd and 4th year program and eight are selected to participate in an abbreviated third-year program.

Participants gain first-hand knowledge and experience regarding the rewards and challenges of providing health care in an urban underserved setting, learn asset based approaches to community health and development, access community resources, enhance cultural skills, engage with communities, and conduct a population-based health project under the guidance of faculty, community and public health mentors.

Opportunities to pursue additional public health training and education

MD-MPH Dual Degree Program

The School of Medicine and Public Health established its 5-year MD-MPH Dual Degree Program with the first MPH class in 2005. MD students apply to the MPH program during their first or second year, and usually enroll in the 12-month program between their third and fourth years of medical school.

Global Health Certificate

The certificate is a collaborative offering of UW-Madison faculty from the schools of Medicine and Public Health, Nursing, Pharmacy and Veterinary Medicine, and the Division of International Studies. Through a nine-credit program that includes a global health field experience, the certificate prepares candidates to address health issues that transcend national boundaries, with an emphasis on health and disease in developing countries.