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Penn Nursing’s Work Supports Institute of Medicine’s Latest Recommendations

A plan for how the education of health professionals can build a better understanding of the social determinants of health, and how that understanding can be enhanced throughout the education process.

A new report from the Institute of Medicine, Framework for Educating Health Professionals to Address the Social Determinants of Health, is now out. It is a plan for how the education of health professionals can build a better understanding of the social determinants of health, and how that understanding can be enhanced throughout the education process.

Antonia Villarruel, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of the School of Nursing, served as a member of the IOM’s committee tasked with addressing these social determinants of health. While developing its recommendations, committee members considered many things including national and international economic policies, development agendas, cultural/social norms, social policies, and political systems as potential barriers to health. Its review of this information supports the need for a holistic, consistent, and coherent framework that aligns the education, health, and government sectors, in partnership with communities, to enhance the education of health professionals.

“Social determinants are the conditions in which people live, grow, and work and these factors shape an individual’s ability to have healthy and productive lives,” said Villarruel.

“I’m proud to say that Penn Nursing’s research, education, and practice is well positioned to address the recommendations in the IOM’s report, and, in fact, we are leading efforts consistent with the report.  We will continue working with our interprofessional colleagues and community partners to engage our students in transformative learning which will prepare them to advance health equity at the point of care and through advocacy efforts.”

Educating health professionals about the social determinants of health generates awareness among those professionals about the potential root causes of ill health and the importance of addressing them in and with communities, contributing to more effective strategies for improving health and health care for underserved individuals, communities, and populations.

This committee was formed and run through the Board on Global Health, and its recommendations will inform the work of the Global Forum on Innovation in Health Professional Education.