The UMed course provides a four-year longitudinal curriculum, a continuous thread that integrates core principles of public and population health with direct participation in local, underserved community interventions. It is conceptually informed by Experiential Learning Theory, and engages course participants with community organizations to develop and evaluate health promotion and disease prevention projects. The course faculty utilizes a mixed methods approach to assess the students and to evaluate effectiveness of the course components.


Students selected through a competitive application process (considering supplemental essays, an in-person interview, and scoring of non-cognitive and cognitive qualifications prior to matriculation).  Admission to UIC College of Medicine and acceptance of offer to join the UMED program.

M1 through M4 years (longitudinal 4 years)

Semesters during which course will be offered:

Throughout all four years of medical school, every student in the UMED program participates in: A Longitudinal Community Project plus final paper (2 credits), didactic seminars in M1 and M2 (2 credits); an online course in M3 (1 credit) and a one week intensive Policy and Advocacy Forum for M4s only (1 credit), which comprises a total of 6 credit hours.


Medical school graduates in the United States have historically not been well prepared to address the health care inequities found in urban, underserved communities. The University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine developed the UMED program in 2005 in order to prepare students for roles that impact on healthcare in underserved communities: as advocate, researcher, policy-maker and culturally-competent practitioner.

Relationship to the overall curriculum:

The course is consistent with the active learning principles infused into the current curriculum and emphasizes prior preparation, self-directed learning, active participation, and group collaboration and tangible work products with formative and summative feedback as a key component of learning and finally, course evaluation and redesign as a key principle of development and improvement of the course.  It enhances the overall curriculum’s increasing focus on population medicine.


The outcome of the Urban Medicine Program experience should be that the student develops a relationship with a community through a prevention program, participates regularly in wellness or prevention activities that progressively lead to working with the organization in a program proposal and evaluation. A further expectation is continuation of the relationship year after year involving medical student underclassmen. The educational principles satisfied include experiential, self-directed and student-centered learning.

Students develop the skill to write a project proposal consisting of a needs assessment, opportunities and threats analysis, program description and rationale, strengths and weaknesses analysis, implementation and maintenance description, evaluation measures of process and goals, and evaluation conclusions.


The course spans the entire 4 years as a longitudinal learning community experience and includes a 1 week full time component in the senior year – the UMED Policy and Advocacy Forum (non–clinical elective, no call or weekend scheduled responsibilities.)


(Course is Pass/Fail)  Students may leave the program without credit prior to the M4 year as described above.  Fail would be determined on the basis of the final paper.  Consideration of Fail (summative assessment of the final paper) would be made on an individual basis after a grace period of probation and remediation with respect to the final paper expectations.

Minimum/maximum students accepted: 24 students each year – for a total of 96 students at a time in the program

Participating Faculty:

Joanna Michel PhD (Director), oversees the curriculum, provides direct instruction, and serves as primary faculty mentor. Several guest faculty from within the UIC faculty roster (School of Medicine, School of Public Health, Allied Health Sciences) as well as host faculty from outside universities and community leaders contribute during all 4 years of the curriculum. UMed Community Site Mentors at each of our partner sites provide a critical link to underserved communities and educate our students on community strengths, challenges, and health care needs.

Administrative Information:
Program Number:
CELE 289
Director: Joanna Michel, PhD
Address: University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Medical Education.
Telephone: 312-996-6920
Email: [email protected]
Duration of Elective: 4 years (Longitudinal)
Night Call: none
Weekends: dependent on project
# of Students Accepted:   24/year
Housestaff Used as Faculty: No
Total Hours /Week:  variable due to longitudinal nature
Number of hours per week, and Lectures/Conferences/Faculty Contact: Variable
Laboratory: none
Independent Study: component of every instructional activity
Inpatient: Outpatient:  No patient experience required

Updated: 3/7/23