M.D. with Distinction in Community Health

The M.D. with Distinction in Community Health recognizes students who have attained exceptional knowledge and experience within the sphere of community-based health care. Individuals satisfying the program requirements will be recognized at graduation and on their diploma as graduating with the degree of Doctor of Medicine, with Distinction in Community Health.


To instill in physicians the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities required to proficiently deliver health care from a community medicine perspective.


The aims of the track are threefold:

  • Provide students with an immersive and experiential learning environment which blends traditional educational opportunities with field research, working among the Dallas Metroplex’ underserved communities.
  • Learn the use of community-based participatory research (CBPR) methodologies and create opportunities for students to obtain insight into the social and structural determinants of health.
  • Expose students to the types and functions of formal and informal medical, public health, and social support programs involved in community health care.



  • Attend Community Action Research Track (CART) orientation
  • December of first year – Submit Community Health Fellowship (CHFP) application
  • Complete CHFP (10 week research intensive)
  • Declare participation in Distinction program


  • Scholarly Activity (12 week research Intensive)
  • Continue work on CHFP project or selected Scholarly Activity research


  • Confirm intention to pursue the Distinction in Community Health
  • Take FAM 4403 elective (4 weeks of research/data analysis/writing)
  • April 1: Final draft of manuscript completed and submitted to peer-reviewed journal 
  • Graduate with Distinction in May

Application Process

Students must submit a formal application to the program. A completed application form and a CV of the student’s work is required for admission. Once approved by the Associate Dean, the student will be considered as participating in the Community Health Distinction program.

Preferably, the student should turn in the application by August 1; before Clerkship registration for priority block scheduling of their Scholarly Activities occurs. If the student does not make this deadline, the latest the student can declare participation in the program is January 1 of the year prior to the anticipated graduation date. (e.g., by Jan. 1, 2017, for an expected 2018 graduation.)

Requirements for Distinction

Community Health Fellowship Program (CHFP) 10 Weeks

The Community Health Fellowship Program (CHFP) introduces first-year medical students to CBPR, and emphasizes the importance of collaboration as a means for addressing community health problems in underserved communities. The focus of the experience is to develop relationships between the UT Southwestern Medical Center Community, and community-based health and social service delivery organizations in the Dallas - Fort Worth Metroplex.

Scholarly Activity (Community Health Track) 12 weeks

The Community Health Track of the Scholarly Activity provides students with practice-oriented and/or service-oriented learning opportunities related to community medicine. Students work with faculty mentors to learn the principles of community-based participatory research (CBPR).

Community Medicine Elective (FAM 4403) 4 weeks

This four-week elective builds upon student’s practice-oriented and/or service-oriented learning experiences in community health. The course is designed to be individualized for students with specific population-health interests, and is predominantly experiential, with students completing rotations in local, state, national, or international health care settings and agencies.

Completed Manuscript

As a requirement for the M.D. with Distinction in Community Health, students will complete a research project on a selected topic of interest. Working with their research and/or faculty mentor along with the Community Health Track Director, as editorial and content advisors, the student will complete a manuscript detailing the scope, analysis, and recommendations related to their project.

As part of this process, students will identify content appropriate peer-reviewed journals to submit their manuscript. Although the configuration and structure of the manuscript content may vary, based upon the journal selected, the following section headings should be included: Abstract, Background, Objectives, Methodology, Results, Conclusions, and Recommendations.


Program timeline is the following:

  • August of First Year – Attend the Community Action Research Track (CART) Orientation, details and application process for the CHFP will be discussed
  • December of First Year – Submit CHFP application
  • August of Second Year – Complete application for Distinction in Community Health
  • August 1 of Graduation Year – Confirm you are still seeking the distinction and verify progress towards completion of all requirements
  • February 1 of Graduation Year – Deadline to complete Community Medicine Elective
  • April 1 of Graduation Year – Deadline to complete the manuscript and submit to peer-reviewed manual