Medicine and Social Justice: A Great Team! – Generation Justice
First cohort of Human Rights and Social Justice Scholars Program participants.

By: Nicholas Tollardo

Maybe like myself you might not think social justice and medicine are two areas of work that would mesh well. It just so happens that like many other organizations created by physicians for social justice and equality in healthcare, the students at Mount Sinai University founded Human Rights and Social Justice Scholars Program. The organization (HRJS), is a “comprehensive one-year track giving student’s the tools, resources and mentorship to pursue the diverse aspects of health equity and social justice.

This organization thrives on helping students to better understand the significance of social justice work in regards to the medical field. There are four founding members, Salina Bakshi, Marie Hennelly, Andrea Jakabowski, and Aisha James who took a chance and created this organization as students. One of the core views of this organization is that its members are supposed to look at social justice from a biopsychosocial standpoint. The aspects of this biopsychosocial approach is understanding the patient’s views both, medically and socially.

The medical field is somewhere we certainly need more social justice work as not only in third world countries but here in the United States as well. Health care is deteriorating and leaving many without affordable healthcare. This is an organization where the focus is on giving these young physicians an opportunity to relate social justice to their medical backgrounds. Becoming a physician is one of the most rewarding and grueling professions. For the most part these young medical students from universities such as Mount Sinai go on to serve in private practices and hospitals.

There are a select few who do go out into the community and offer their services in third world countries and even here for the working class of America. In the program, HRJS, only a few are selected and given the opportunity to go to workshops and seminars that will prepare them in understanding the social problems that prevent some people from getting the healthcare they need due to their class status and what is allotted to them.

From the perspective that the founders of HRJS have created, the new generation of physicians that come from this program will have a better understanding both socially and medically of how patients need to be treated in any setting. This program, which was started in 2010, is one that will be the foundation for the new breed of physician that will ensure understanding for the needs of all classes of people here in the US or in third world countries.

(photo credit: Medicine Matters/Mount Sinai)

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