Full course descriptions 
are found on the School of Medicine web page
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Department of Medicine

Behavioral and Preventive Medicine

Undergraduate Medical Education


Medical School Years 1 and 2
Patient, Physician and Society (PPS) Course

The Physician, Patient and Society (PPS) course includes large group lectures and small group sessions coordinated with concurrent basic science courses during the first two years.  The goals of the PPS course in the first year are to develop interviewing, physical exam, and clinical problem solving skills, and to increase the students' knowledge of concepts and resources available to patients.  The goals in the second year are to prepare students for their third year clerkships including processing information to develop problem lists, assessments, and preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic plans.  Under the sponsorship of the Cancer Prevention and Control Education Program (CPACE) funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), PPS sessions now include sessions on introduction to public health planning and prevention programs.

There are several preventive counseling and epidemiological/biostatistics modules in the course taught by Division faculty including:

  • Counseling for Health Enhancement and Disease Prevention: Smoking Cessation (Dr. Judith Ockene)
  • Epidemiology/Biostatistics (Dr. Sybil Crawford and Dr. Janet Hardy)
Caring for the Seriously Ill (CSI) Course

The Caring for the Seriously Ill (CSI) Course is an elective for 1st and 2nd year students.  This course was primarily designed by students and is based on interactions with patients who are dealing with life-threatening illnesses.  The course involves a large group presentation followed by interactive small group sessions.  Topics covered include: the dying process, breaking bad news, advance directives, palliative care, childhood end-of-life issues, spirituality, and bereavement and the grieving process. 
Division faculty currently teaching in the CSI course: Dr. Lori Pbert and Mr. Phil Merriam

The Contemplative Mind in Medicine (CFM)

The CFM has offered a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course -- The Contemplative Mind in Medicine -- for first and second year medical students since 1985. This course, taught by Dr. Saki Santorelli, Executive Director of the CFM, offers medical students a forum for learning mindfulness meditation and mindfulness-based stress reduction, an experientially-based orientation to stress, coping, and significant life transitions, and a first hand experience of mind-body approaches to health and well being to develop a more participatory and preventive orientation toward patient care in their future medical practices.

Medical School Year 3
Medical Clerkship

Faculty have worked with the Medicine clerkship to develop a prevention assessment and counseling exercise.  This exercise, now in web-facilitated format, involves Preventive Medicine Residents in the learning feedback process.

Family Medicine Clerkship

Faculty have worked with the Family Medicine clerkship to develop and refine clerkship models, notably related to cancer control.

Ob/Gyn Clerkship

Via the efforts of the CPACE program modules in sexual history taking, pelvic and breast exam skill building and issues in sexual orientation have been developed.

Community Health Clerkship

A lecture on perinatal epidemiology is provided by Dr. Janet Hardy.

Medical Students:  Mentoring

Division faculty are actively involved in mentoring medical students.  These include Dr. Yunsheng Ma, Mr. Phil Merriam, Ms. Barbara Olendzki, and Drs. Ira and Judith Ockene.  Examples of recent medical student projects include: “Correlates and Characteristics of Physical Activity Among a Latino Population at High Risk for Diabetes: LLDPP” and “Effectiveness of Self-Reported Strategies to Overcoming Barriers of Dietary and Exercise Habits” (Dr. Yunsheng Ma).

Several opportunities exist for medical students seeking additional in-depth study of nutrition in research and clinical areas.  Goals are to have the student understand through selected projects and study how nutrition information can and should be integrated within medical practice.

Medical Students: Summer Fellowship Program

Each year a number of faculty sponsor a medical student accepted into a Summer Research Fellowship.  Phil Merriam directs this effort.  Past projects have included: “Physical Activity and Correlates of Lifestyle Change in Latinos”, “Behavioral Strategies for Lifestyle Change in Physical Activity and Nutrition in Latinos”, “Analysis of Clinical Trial Recruitment: Systems to Enhance Counseling in Hyperlipidemia (WATCH 2)” and “Are Health-Risk Behaviors Related to Stress?”.

Undergraduate Summer Research Program

Division faculty sponsor students participating in the Undergraduate Summer Research Program.  These students come from a variety of local colleges including Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and College of Holy Cross.  Faculty include Drs. Sybil Crawford, Janet Hardy, George Reed, Judith Ockene, and Mr. Phil Merriam and Ms. Linda Churchill.