Original Publication
Open Access

Who Are the Underserved?

Published: November 30, 2015 | 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.10288

Included in this publication:

  • Who Are The Underserved Instructor's Guide.docx
  • Who Are The Underserved Introductory Article.docx
  • Who Are The Underserved Presentation.ppt
  • Who Are The Underserved Student Worksheets.docx

To view all publication components, extract (i.e., unzip) them from the downloaded .zip file.

Editor's Note: This publication predates our implementation of the Educational Summary Report in 2016 and thus displays a different format than newer publications.


Introduction: This session was created from an online learning module for medical students who choose to participate in the Underserved Pathway (UP) at the University of Washington School of Medicine (UWSOM). The UP provides an optional supplement to the standard medical school training, with its own set of requirements students must complete to graduate from this program and receive the UP Certificate of Completion. Methods: Through the use of handouts and a PowerPoint presentation, this session is intended to get students on the same page with regard to understanding which segments of the population are included in the label underserved, and to give them a common language to use when learning about, and working with, underserved patients. Two cases are also presented, and students work through these in small groups. Information on factors associated with poor access to health care services is also included, along with some ways that the health of underserved communities can be improved. Results: First-year medical students were surveyed postimplementation. To the question of: “How effective was this module at conveying information?” 42% indicated it was moderately effective, and 56% indicated it was either very effective or extremely effective. To the question: “How likely is this module to impact your future work?” 38% indicated it was moderately likely, and 39% indicated very likely or extremely likely. Discussion: Although this session initially was designed to go beyond the standard curriculum, UWSOM has launched a new curriculum in 2015 and many aspects of this session are now incorporated into the standard curriculum for all students. This session could be offered in the preclinical or clinical curriculum or as an extracurricular session for students desiring more knowledge about this topic.

Educational Objectives

By the end of this session, learners will be able to:

  1. Compare what attributes make a population underserved as opposed to vulnerable with regard to health and health care.
  2. Compare the terms health disparity, health inequality, and health inequity.
  3. Describe factors that contribute to a person having poor health outcomes.
  4. Examine the changing landscape of health care and health insurance in the US.
  5. Evaluate several specific strategies that can be used to decrease health inequities.
  6. Describe approaches to personal biases toward specific groups of people or particular situations.

Author Information

  • Amanda Kost, MD: University of Washington School of Medicine
  • Letitia Reason, PhD, MPH: University of Washington School of Medicine
  • Jaime Fitch: University of Washington School of Medicine
  • David Evans, MD: University of Washington School of Medicine
  • Sharon Dobie, MD, MCP: University of Washington School of Medicine

None to report.

None to report.


Kost A, Reason L, Fitch J, Evans D, Dobie S. Who are the underserved?. MedEdPORTAL. 2015;11:10288. https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.10288