Medicine and Society: Education in the School of Medicine

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Foundations / Medicine in Contemporary Society Year One (MCS 1)

 The primary aim of Foundations is to provide students with an introduction to the compassionate and clinical practice of medicine while beginning to shape their developing professional identities. This year-long course aims to teach students to become complete doctors who treat complete people, rather than just treating illnesses. All course activities are designed to help students achieve one or more of the following objectives:


1. Demonstrate an awareness of how emotions, attitudes and behaviors affect patient care.

2. Work effectively as a member of a team by demonstrating respect, leadership and compassion in all interactions.

3. Obtain a comprehensive health history, including attentiveness to the patient’s illness experience, and perform a complete physical exam.

4. Utilize an evidence based approach to exploring clinical questions, evaluate critically the medical literature, and effectively communicate research findings to patients and other health professionals.

5. Decide on an ethical course of action taking into account the values, preferences and goals of patients and families, consistent with patient centered care.


MCS Year Two

 Medicine in Contemporary Society is our second year program in Medical Humanities, Bioethics, and Compassionate Care.  It forms the bridge between the foundational work done in first year and the experience of clinical medicine which follows.  The course is formative in focus, drawing on cases and experiences and challenges faced by students and faculty learning to practice medicine ethically and compassionately.  MCS 2 allows students to take the lead in instruction.  We provide a minimum of information and insight for each session and faculty leaders are available as mentors – but the learning happens as students take the lead in discussion and interaction with each other. Some of the topics treated are:

  • The illness experience and the ways in which doctors and patients have used narrative to explore their experience of illness and caring.
  • The ethics of hope as understood through the experience of Brooke Ellison, a young woman from Long Island who transcended a paralyzing childhood accident to become an advocate for the possibilities of hope in patient’s lives.
  • The problems and opportunities of becoming patient care advocates in both the local and global setting.
  • The skills involved in maintaining positive doctor patient relationships and dealing with special situations such as extremely ill patients, patients who pose a risk to their caregivers, and colleagues who are themselves ill or impaired.
  • We also explore current issues in bioethcs such as professional integrity in research and practice, mistake and error, personal conscience and respect for autonomy, altruism and organ transplant, and justice and health care reform. 

In student evaluations MCS 2 is among the most highly rated courses at Stony Brook achieving top ratings in every category of assessment.


MCS 2. Selectives: In addition to the core content above, MCS 2 also provides students with the opportunity to work together for five weeks in two-hour weekly small groups to examine some of our center’s key topics more closely.  Students have been able to choose topics of interest including:

1. Altruism in Medicine

2. Sociology of Medicine

3. The Ethics of Hope

4. 9-11 Anatomy of a Healthcare Disaster

5. Decision Making in the ICU

6. Core Concepts in Geriatrics

7. Health Care Economics

8. Disability and Community

9. Spirituality and Health care

10. Hospice and Palliative Care

11. Becoming a Better Doctor Through Poetry

12. History of Medicine


MCS 2 Community Service Projects: One of the most important skills involved in a professional career is the ability to achieve balance between one’s own development and the needs of the community in which we serve.  Our second year program provides students with the opportunity to participate in community outreach in a reflective and rewarding way.  Working with faculty mentors, students engage in service to our community in activities such as SB Home (a student run free clinic), working with senior adults at the Long Island State Veterans Home, teaching preventive health practices in local high schools, and mentoring young people in various research projects. The projects allow students to become doctors – teachers – and to practice communicating their new knowledge to a variety of people.


MCS Year Three

 Clinical ethics is integrated across the clinical clerkships, including both role-modeling and teaching with clinical faculty, and formal sessions with Center faculty in the Obstetrics and Gynecology and Family Medicine clerkships.


MCS Year Four

These electives are offered monthly across the fourth year, allowing students to dive into these important topics after their third tear clerkship experiences:


1. Ethics and Dementia
2. Patient Centered Decision Making
3. Clinical Ethics
4. The History of the US Health Care System: Models, Reforms, Challenges 
5. What the Doctor Said: Literature, Arts, and Medicine
6. Medicine and the Law
7. Spirituality and Medicine
8. Altruism and Bioethics
9. Narrative Medicine
10. Clinical Ethics: Neonatal Intensive Care
11. Ethics Writing Elective for MD with Recognition in Research

12. Palliative Medicine


MD with Recognition in Humanistic Studies

 Each year a select group of students at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine choose to spend 6 months over the course of their medical studies exploring in depth an area of the humanities.  These projects have ranged from photography and art to poetry and prose, to history and social sciences, focusing on the experiences of health and illness, and patients and providers, as well as families and societies, as they face the causes and consequences of sickness, aging, disability, and death, as well as seek the sources of wellness, happiness, growth, and generatively.



Last updated by jamie.romeiser on April 21, 2011

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