Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
MD Program

Areas of Concentration

During their flexible time in the curriculum, students may pursue one or more areas of concentration, earning a notation on their transcript and in their Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE) letter.

The academic surgery program familiarizes medical students with basic surgical concepts, techniques and terminologies to augment learning in the operating room.


  • Mandatory 8-week pre-clerkship lessons in 2nd year
  • 6 hour pre-sub-internship session on suturing and laparoscopy skills in 3rd year
  • 2 week Boot Camp at the Simulation Center in 4th year
  • Accrual of points by attending symposiums, participating in Agnew Scholars Program, or presentation of research at qualifying local/regional/national scientific meetings
  • 1 page write-up after attending lectures/grand rounds/symposium 
  • Scholarly Pursuit with Department of Surgery mentor
  • Teach surgical curriculum to MS-2 and MS-3 students during 4th year

Contact Leader

Ari Brooks, MD

The Bridging the Gaps (BTG) program links the provision of health-related service for under-resourced populations with the interprofessional training of health and social service professionals.


Complete either/or:

Contact Leaders

To learn more, visit Bridging the Gaps.

The clinical informatics area of concentration program is designed to train students to think like clinician-informaticians, capable of leveraging technology and data analytics to improve the way that we deliver health care.


Didactic Components
  • Completion of the University of Pennsylvania’s Introduction to Biomedical and Health Informatics (BMIN 501) course
  • Completion of one of the following elective options:
    • Other semester-long course on topic relevant to clinical informatics offered through the University
    • Clinical Informatics Frontiers course
    • Epic training course
    • Online programming/data science course
  • Completion of one of the following seminar options:
    • Attendance at ≥5 seminars on topics relevant to clinical informatics across the University
    • Attendance at an approved academic conference in clinical informatics
  • Completion of one of the following teaching options:
    • Present clinical informatics relevant project at an academic conference
    • Act as an office hours “content expert” for the intersession Intro to Epic course for incoming clerkship students
Experiential Components
  • CHOP Introduction to Clinical Informatics rotation, or
  • Yearlong Clinical Informatics Fellowship offered through the Office of the CMIO, or
  • An otherwise appropriate short-term internship to be approved by PSOM
Mentorship Components
  • Students will be paired with a mentor based on their interests through the faculty advisory board
  • Students will also have the opportunity to meet with executive leaders within Penn Medicine’s health IT landscape

Contact Leader

John Holmes, PhD, FACE, FACMI

This program trains clinical neuroscience specialists who will eventually participate at the forefront of clinical and academic practice and research. The program combines curricular enrichment in the neurosciences, mentoring, special extracurricular activities and research opportunities within the four-year medical school structure. 


  • Attend 20 required CNST biweekly seminars during MS-1 – MS-4
  • Complete a qualifying summer research project in a clinical neuroscience area between MS-1 and MS-2
  • Present research findings at a qualifying local, regional or national scientific meeting
  • Complete two clinical neurosciences electives
  • Complete a clinical neurosciences-related Scholarly Pursuit project during MS-3 – MS-4

Contact Leader

Daniel Wolf, MD, PhD

To learn more, visit Penn CNST.

The IMPaCT program provides an understanding of the challenges faced by low-SES patients in maintaining health and obtaining health care. IMPaCT helps students develop cross-cultural communication and negotiation skills, acquire knowledge of health care resources and services available to low-SES patients, and learn to advocate in the health care setting for patients to obtain care and services. 


  • Complete the Bridging the Gaps Community Health Internship Program (BTG CHIP).
  • Complete the Bridging the Gaps Seminar Series
  • Complete the IMPaCT Teaching Service
  • Complete a Scholarly Pursuit related to the social determinants of health and reducing health disparities

Contact Leaders  

The Global Health Certificate program is designed to benefit students who are interested in pursuing careers in this area by allowing them to demonstrate active engagement and longstanding commitment to global health.

This program provides students with an in-depth exploration of global health issues through international experiences, coursework and research.  


  • Students must complete two field experiences lasting a minimum of 6 weeks (exception only for clinical rotations where partner institution offers 4 weeks), usually between years MS-1 – MS-2 (for research) and during MS-3 – MS-4 (for research or clinical rotations). (See Community Health - Bridging the Gaps concentration for an alternative). Year-out opportunities also available. 
  • Complete PUBH519 Foundations in Global Health (scroll under PUBH electives) offered by the Master of Public Health program in the Perelman School of Medicine, 1 credit unit, fall semester.  
  • Complete a Scholarly Pursuit that has global health relevance. 

Contact Leader 


Maria Cortese Hering, MA, MPH

To learn more, visit Penn Center for Global Health.

The H-MET program helps enable future health professionals to impact an evolving health care system by pursuing interdisciplinary education in health care innovation. H-MET facilitates skill development and project experience. H-MET promotes mentorship and joint ventures among students, faculty, alumni and the health care industry.  


  • Attend at a minimum of 12 H-MET seminars between the first year and mid-December of the 4th year of medical school
  • Complete 2 courses: one from the Health Care Management Department at Wharton or other departments within the University of Pennsylvania; one content-appropriate Frontiers in Medical Sciences course
  • Complete two of the following: 
    • Scholarly Pursuit project in an H-MET topic 
    • A research project in an H-MET topic within the University of Pennsylvania and its hospital system during a Year Out 
    • An approved project-based course within the University of Pennsylvania
    • An internship in an H-MET-related industry
    • An administrative experience in which the student is paired with a faculty member or physician who carries out an H-MET-related role in the University or hospital system and the student is required to assist him or her in a project. 

Contact Leaders 

To learn more, visit Penn HealthX.

NOTE: Health Care Management, Entrepreneurship & Technology is administered by the School of Medicine in conjunction with the medical-student-run Penn HealthX group. Please contact with any questions. 

The Leadership in Healthcare Improvement and Patient Safety area of concentration immerses medical students in the field of healthcare quality improvement and patient safety through education, practical experiences, and interactions with physicians and other health care team members engaged in improving the delivery of healthcare.



  • Complete Institute for Healthcare Improvement Basic Certificate in Quality and Safety
  • Participate in a 2-day interdisciplinary team-based workshop focused on learning and applying quality improvement tools to a real hospital problem.  Example of 2-day workshop agenda.
  • Enroll in one of the following courses:
      • HQS 6010: Healthcare Quality: Standards, Landscape, and Measurement
      • HQS 6120: Principles and Practice of Healthcare Quality Improvement
      • HQS 6500: Systems Thinking in Patient Safety
      • HQS 6080: Using Quality Improvement to Achieve Health Equity



  • Provided by the Area of Concentration Director (required to meet 2 times/year)
  • Additional mentorship will be provided by a faculty advisor in the clinical or operational area of interest of the student.

Contact Leader


The Measey Primary Care Pathway is designed to train the next generation of primary care physicians with the skills they need to engage in and transform high quality patient-centered care. This comprehensive program includes enhanced primary care clinical experiences, mentoring from exceptional role models, research and scholarship opportunities, team learning, courses and workshops, and community engagement experiences. Students can join the pathway as first-, second-, or third-year students.

To learn more, visit the Penn Measey Primary Care Pathway Program.

This program prepares upper-level students to become leaders in medical education: 

  • Through training in the science of medical education, theoretical frameworks, and principles 
  • By developing skills in scholarship via medical education research or curriculum development 
  • By developing effective teaching skills  
  • Through mentoring by faculty with experience in medical education leadership or scholarship  


Didactic Components
  • Frontiers in Medical Education (2 weeks), which includes didactics and interactive skill-building exercises
  • Perelman School of Medicine Medical Education Journal Club (participating in 60% of sessions), including one presentation during the certificate program 
  • Monthly medical education certificate seminar meetings 
Practical Components
  • Teaching Assistant  (i.e., Anatomy/MDTI/ICM/Student Reports) with structured peer/faculty feedback on teaching using behavioral checklists/reflection exercises 
  • Observing master teachers using behavioral checklists/reflection exercises 
  • Medical education leadership: opportunities include course representatives and curriculum committees 
Mentoring Components
  • Mentoring by faculty medical educator with monthly meetings  
Scholarship Components 
  • Curriculum development opportunities or medical education research project 
  • Final capstone presentation to group 

Contact Leader 

Jennifer Kogan, MD

The medical humanities are an interdisciplinary field that applies perspectives and methods from the humanities (fine arts, music, literature, history, ethics, social sciences, etc.) to medical practice and education. The medical humanities area of concentration allows students to explore these intersections through their own lens — developing new connections and creating scholarly inquiries to shape the field in the future. Students are eligible to start as early as the beginning of Core 1 (pre-clerkship) and as late as the end of Core 2 (post-clerkship). Students will participate in four AOC cohort meetings per academic year while in Core 1 and Core 3.


Prior to graduation, MedHum AOC students must fulfill all of the following requirements.


Students will participate in one-to-one mentorship with a resident, fellow, or faculty member engaged in the medical humanities. Students will be paired according to their interests via the Penn Health Medical Humanities Database, which currently has over 50 Penn residents, fellows, and faculty listed.


Students will complete at least two practical experiences, including but not limited to:

  • Coordinating a medical humanities elective
  • TA'ing a medical humanities elective
  • Leading a humanities-related student organization (apenndx, Last Writers, Medical Humanities Council, among others), or establishing a new one
  • Engaging in scholarly research related to the medical humanities (separate from a Scholarship Pursuit below)

Students must complete at least 3 of the following:

  • Attend at least two Medical Humanities AOC workshops
  • Attend a medical humanities conference (with or without poster or abstract)
  • Complete a medical humanities elective
  • Complete a Med Hum-related Frontiers course, e.g. Framing Bias
  • Attend at least four Medical Humanities lectures and complete the related 250-word reflection 

Under the guidance of an approved mentor, students will propose and then submit to the Med Hum AOC faculty advisor a project that fulfills any one of the following:

  • Scholarly Pursuit related to the medical humanities
  • Other scholarly project related to the medical humanities (must provide proof of publication or otherwise submit a manuscript to the faculty advisor)
  • Capstone project related to the medical humanities (e.g., theater piece, historical essay, art portfolio, etc.)

Concentration Director

Amanda Swain, MD

As emphasis on patient-centered care in medical education has grown, palliative care is increasingly recognized as an important part of medical school curricula. The palliative care area of concentration is an opportunity for students to solidify basic concepts and begin to work toward more advanced palliative care skills and knowledge. Students must apply for this area of concentration by the end of their clerkship year. See here more information on the CARE-7 Palliative Care curriculum.


Didactic Experiences
  • Attend or view a minimum of six sessions of the Palliative Care Conference Series
  • Attend a minimum of four Palliative Care Specialty Interest Group events
Modules, Readings, and Recorded Lectures
  • Complete the Center to Advance Palliative Care’s pain and symptom management modules
  • Complete the readings and recorded lectures on the Palliative Care Certificate Canvas page
Specialized Coaching
  • Assignment to a CARE-7 coach for professional mentoring with scheduled meetings at least 2x/year
  • Assignment to a mentor from the Palliative and Advanced Illness Research Center for mentoring in research/assistance with scholarly project
Exposure to 2 weeks of Clinical Palliative Care (3rd/4th Year)

Choose 1:

  • Palliative medicine elective at HUP/PPMC/PAH (MED304)
  • Palliative medicine elective at the VA
Capstone Project
  • Completion of scholarly project in 4th year related to care of patients with serious illness or the field of palliative care

Contact Leader

Alana Sagin, MD

Public Health in Medicine Certificate

This certificate provides transcript-level recognition for Penn medical students who have made an effort to expand their public health knowledge during medical school by completing required public health-related scholarly activities while enrolled in medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. 

This certificate is only available to students enrolled in the MD program at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Students already enrolled in the combined MD-MPH program are not eligible, because this certificate would be redundant.

Certificate Requirements

  1. Scholarly Pursuit project that is public health focused, as determined by the Chair of the MD-MPH Steering Committee, or assigned proxy. Students should consult with the MPH program office prior to initiating their scholarly pursuit to ensure appropriateness of their projects.   Registration is via the standard MD scholarly pursuit process which includes approval from the Associate Dean for Curriculum.
  2. Public health immersion experience (Registration is via the PSOM Registrar. A performance evaluation documenting completion of activity will be needed). One of the following:
  • Public Health research internship, (must be a research project that is relevant to public health, as determined by the MD-MPH Steering Committee)
  • Bridging the Gaps (must be at a site that is relevant to public health, as determined by the MD-MPH Steering Committee)
  • A global health immersion experience (students should confirm eligibility in advance to ensure that their planned summer experience is appropriate)
  • Student leader at one of the Student led community clinics:

  • Other experiences may be considered by the MD-MPH Advisory Committee on a case-by-case basis.

3. Public Health Coursework. Pass/fail grading is acceptable (registration is via the University system).

  • One public health course (1 course unit) with a PUBH prefix*
  • One additional public health course unit satisfying any of the following criteria:
    • PUBH prefix*
    • Non-PUBH course at Penn that is pre-approved by the MD-MPH Steering Committee as a public health-related elective for MPH students
    • Frontiers in Public Health Course (or other relevant Frontiers with pre-approval)
    • Other courses considered on a case-by-case basis

*Due to overlap with medical school course HHS 320: Health System Sciences, the public health course PUBH 5050 Health Administration and Policy is not eligible and should not be taken by medical students to satisfy requirements of this certificate.

Contact and Certificate Leader: Mario DeMarco, MD, MPH

This program enables students to describe the importance of incorporating spiritual care into a health care system; to integrate patients’ spiritual issues and resources into ongoing treatment and plans for care; to demonstrate the ability to engage and remain fully present with a patient; to practice curious inquiry—a nonjudgmental practice of exploration without goals or expectations; and to identify the role spirituality plays in one’s professional life.


  • 6-week summer internship program (a stipend is provided and applications are due March 1 of each year) 
  • Non-credit training experience 
    • Healer's Arts parts I & II (years 1 and 4) 
  • Observational experiences 
    • Chaplain shadowing (year 1) 
    • Grief rounds in the MICU (year 4)
  • Didactic experiences  
    • Attend a minimum of four of the annual Sparkman Lectures in Spirituality, Religion and Medicine and/or monthly Spirituality, Religion and Health Interest Group Lectures
  • Clinical/patient rotations (years 3 and 4), choose one: 
    • Palliative Medicine 
    • Geriatric Medicine 
    • IMPaCT 
    • Pediatrics
    • Critical Care Medicine
    • Psychiatry
  • An experience in counseling, advising, or mentoring:  
    • A medical school experience, such as facilitating in the Doctoring course or serving as a coordinator for IDEAL MEd's Summer Mentor Program for Philadelphia High School Students
    • An experience around some aspect of clinical care  
    • An experience engaging people in crisis (e.g., domestic violence, suicide risk, etc.) 
  • Scholarly Pursuit in Spirituality and Health (year 4) 

Contact Leader 

Horace DeLisser, MD