The public hospital in American medical education

Marc N. Gourevitch, Dolores Malaspina, Michael Weitzman, Lewis R. Goldfrank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The importance of the public hospital system to medical education is often absent from the debate about its value. Best known as a core provider of services to the underserved, the safety net hospital system also plays a critical role in the education of future physicians. Particular strengths include its ability to imbue physicians in training with core professional values, to reveal through the enormous range of clinical experience provided many of the social forces shaping health, and to foster interest in and commitment to advancing population health. Faculty teaching in the public hospital system has unusual opportunities to reveal to learners the broader meanings of their diverse and rich experiences. Now, as an alarming array of pressures bearing down on the safety net system threaten its stability, the potential negative impact on medical education, were it to shrink or be forced to change its essential mission, must be considered. As advocates of the safety net system marshal forces to rationalize its funding and support, its tremendous contribution to the training of physicians and other health care professionals must be clearly set forth to ensure that support for the public hospital system's health is appropriately broad based.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)779-786
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Urban Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Medical education
  • Public hospitals
  • Residency training
  • Safety net

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Urban Studies
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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