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Population Health Pathway


Background and Overview

Population health it often defined as the health outcomes of a group of individuals within a particular area (e.g., city, region, state) or healthcare system (e.g., University of Utah Health, Intermountain Healthcare). Population Health Sciences is an approach to understand and improve the health of a defined population and includes three major concepts: 1) health outcomes, 2) social determinants of health, and 3) interventions and policies.


Current day healthcare systems are challenged to transform delivery systems to increase patient safety, engagement, and quality of care, while managing costs to conform to the Patient Protection and the Affordable Care Act of 2010. Organizations will need to deliver patient centered care with the same or better outcomes while containing cost in order to succeed under changing payment models that reward value.


Population health concepts are increasingly used to support healthcare systems and clinicians understand, develop, and implement protocol based practices demonstrated to improve patient outcomes.


The Population Health Pathway is intended to provide students with an introduction to the importance of population health sciences and to career opportunities for physicians in population health sciences. Unique aspects of the University of Utah – including implementation of patient reported outcomes (PROs) into clinical care, the development of the Value Driven Outcomes tool (VDO), the Utah Population Database (UPDB) – make it an ideal setting to learn about population health.


Why You Should Consider the Pathway

The Population Pathway will provide students with knowledge, experiences, and connections with University and community experts that will guide them as they define their medical career. These experiences and connections will also help prepare them for successful residency programs.



Pathway Objectives

As a result of completing the four-year Population Health Pathway, students will:

  • have an understanding of basic population health concepts
  • be engaged with health and healthcare at a healthcare system and/or community level
  • apply their knowledge to work meaningfully in clinical and/or research settings
  • demonstrate their knowledge through a capstone project


Example Activities Within The Pathway

Over the course of the Pathway, students will engage in the following activities:

  • Course work: Students will complete coursework each year as described below
  • Research/Clinical Project: Students will participate in an on-going research project, innovative clinical practice, or community project under faculty supervision (recommend completing by end of year 2)
  • Experiential Learning Activities: Students will complete at least four experiential learning activities (e.g., visiting State Legislature, volunteering at community clinics, shadowing a clinician)
  • Community Based Services: Students will visit 2-4 community programs or agencies that have an impact on population health such as Utah Food Bank, Mobile health van, Community clinics, reservation clinics
  • Experiential Journal: Students will maintain a reflective journal throughout their third year of medical school using multiple media (e.g., personal writing, Twitter)
  • Capstone: Final Portfolio, elevator pitch, and report


Example Pathway Schedule

  • MS1 Fall and Spring, and MS2 Fall: Introduction to Population Health Pathway I, II, III (0.5 credits each)
  • MS1 Summer/MS2 Fall: Research/clinical project
  • MS2 Spring – MS3 Summer: Journaling, Community-based services
  • MS4 Fall: Develop portfolio and elevator pitch for residency interviews
  • MS4 Spring: Complete Capstone project


For more information, contact:  Elissa Ozanne, PhD (





For any further questions please contact:

Kerri Shaffer, MEd, MLIS
Director of Curriculum and Faculty Support