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Urban Medicine and Health Care Disparities Scholarly Concentration

This concentration provides students with an understanding of the historical and contemporary barriers that exist for the nation’s medically underserved in urban areas. Through coursework, students will investigate authentic cross-cultural and linguistic issues in health care and be able to demonstrate how sensitivity to such issues improves health care for all. Through scholarly project work, students will act as advocates by developing interventions to address or reduce health disparities.


Some concentration coursework can be completed online; some coursework takes place on the Northwest-Gary campus. The scholarly project work occurs on the Northwest-Gary campus.

Curriculum and Timeline

Students completing the Urban Medicine and Health Care Disparities concentration fulfill the same core curriculum as students in other concentrations. The didactic components provide a strong academic and experiential foundation in urban medicine and health care disparities that is vital for completion of the core curriculum project and product.

Recommended Pathway

 This table shows that the first and second topic specific courses should be completed during phase one in year one. The third topic specific course should be taken during phase one year two. The two remaining courses, project and product, are longitudinal. The project should begin during phase one in year one, while the product should begin during the summer between first and second year of med school. Both the project and product should conclude on or before the end of fourth year.

*Mid December to mid February

Students determine if a concentration pathway will fit in their schedule by contacting concentration co-directors. 

Scholarly Project Topic Examples

Students work with faculty to complete a project in a relevant topic based on student interests. Students are welcome to come up with their own project idea. Potential project topics include but are not limited to:
  • Social Determinants of Health and 30-day Readmissions in an Urban Community Hospital in Northwest Indiana
  • Identifying Socio-Demographic and Behavioral Predictors of Prolonged Hospital Stay in an Urban Hospital in Northwest Indiana
  • Neurovascular Conditions and Associated Socio-Demographic and Behavioral Factors in an Urban Hospital in Northwest Indiana
  • Socio-Demographic and Behavioral Predictors of Admission for Kidney Disease in an Urban Hospital in Northwest Indiana
  • Social Determinants of Health Associated with Inpatient Admissions for Congestive Heart Failure, Diabetes, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and Asthma
  • Weekly Physical Activity Levels and Socio-Demographic Factors in an Urban Hospital in Northwest Indiana
  • Group Prenatal Care Models, Implementation, and Perinatal Outcomes: An Integrative Review
  • Analysis of Lung Cancer Disparities in Northwest Indiana
  • Breast Cancer Disparities Among Women in Underserved Communities in Northwest Indiana
  • Retrospective Cohort Analysis of Colorectal Cancer Staging in Northwest Indiana
  • Retrospective Analysis of COVID-19 Impact on Social + Emotional Development in Children of Low-Income Communities from Head Start
  • Coil-Assisted Retrograde Transvenous Obliteration (CARTO) for the Treatment of Gastric Variceal Bleeding in a Patient with a Gastrorenal Shunt: A Case Report

Student Testimonials

  • Hunter McCollum, Class of 2024

    What scholarly project have you chosen to undertake and why?

    We did a project with a local organization that's called Operation Combat Bikesaver – a nonprofit organization that tries to do what they call “Hot Rod therapy.” They work with veterans, and they basically offer this healthy outlet for them to come and build motorcycles. And then through that, they also offer more formal connections to healthcare and psychiatric care as well as peer support groups.

    So we did a research study with them sort of as a community-based participatory research study to analyze and review the effects that this program has had on veterans in the Northwest–Gary area. That project was important to me because I'm in the Air Force, so I'm doing the Health Professions Scholarship Program. What I wanted to do, since I'm sort of removed from that patient population right now, was get exposure to and learn better ways to help that population while I'm in medical school and still learning.

    How has participating in the Urban Medicine and Health Care Disparities Scholarly Concentration shaped your medical school journey?

    It's definitely given me a broader understanding of all the other things patients face before they can actually address just really baseline medical needs. A lot of the Scholarly Concentration focuses on psychiatric care and barriers to care, so it’s shaped the way I think about the patient experience between the patient being in the office or in the hospital and at home. What it takes for them to go from at home to in the hospital or in the office were things I just really hadn't considered as much, so the Concentration helped my understanding of what are the barriers to care for various patients. 


16590-Han, Amy

Amy W. Han, MA, PhD

Director of Clinical Education at IUSM-Northwest-Gary

Bio and Contact Information

60476-Muvuka, Baraka

Baraka Muvuka, PhD, MPH, MCHES

Assistant Professor of Clinical Family Medicine

Bio and Contact Information

MD Student News

In their words: Scholarly Concentration Q&A with Urban Medicine and Health Disparities co-director

Amy Han, PhD, and Elizabeth Ryan, EdD, share details on the Urban Medicine and Health Care Disparities Scholarly Concentration, which provides students with an understanding of the historical and contemporary barriers that exist for the nation’s medically underserved in urban areas.