An Organic Approach to Health Professions Education and Health Equity: Learning in and With Underserved Communities

Since the Flexner Report in 1910, medical education has taken a primarily technical approach to preparing students for science-based medical practice. Adequately addressing the complex problems leading to population health disparities and achieving health equity is not possible through a technical approach to education alone. Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, who brought organic architecture to the world of building design, the author suggests an organic approach to health equity through education and training of a workforce in and with rural and underserved urban communities. An organic approach can claim many roots—in philosophy, education for social justice, the pedagogy of place, relationship-centered care, patient-centered and community-oriented primary care, community engagement, and complexity science. Though framed in theory, such an approach has a growing evidence base in professional education generally and has practical implications for the location of education and training, emergent curriculum design, and a community-responsive approach to program implementation.

Longenecker RL. An organic approach to health professions education and health equity: Learning in and with underserved communities. J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2020;31(5):114-119. doi:10.1353/hpu.2020.0142.

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Contact: Randall Longenecker, MD