Michael Westerhaus, MD, faculty member in the Medical School’s Department of Medicine and Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility, was recently selected as a 2019 Macy Faculty Scholar by the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation.

The Macy Faculty Scholars Program is designed to identify and nurture the careers of promising educational innovators in medicine and nursing.

Awardees are given a stipend over two years to implement a project that initiates educational change in their institution. 

“I’m incredibly appreciative of the way the Macy Foundation supports people who are trying to do innovative work related to the education of health professionals,” says Westerhaus.

A key element of Westerhaus’ work is implementing and evaluating curricula that aims to elevate the critical consciousness of health professionals to understand and respond to the social and structural determination of health. Specifically, he works to integrate lessons from the social sciences into medical education and practice in a cohesive and comprehensive way.

“These lessons help students conceptualize illness as a biosocial problem that requires a biosocial response,” says Westerhaus.

The curricula deliberately incorporates social scientists as equal co-teachers, as opposed to guest speakers, and centralizes other disciplines and practitioners who currently receive little to no attention. 

“These include storytellers and writers versed in narrative health; artists engaged in building social cohesion and creatively interpreting social experience; and community health workers who work in neighborhoods and homes,” he says.

In addition to his faculty appointments, Westerhaus serves as a primary care clinician at the Center for International Health and Program Director of the Bridge to Residency for Immigrant International Doctor Graduates through Clinical Experience (BRIIDGE) Program.