Public and Community Health Opportunities

The Office of Diversity Programs is directly involved in the improvement of the St. Louis public’s health through an integrated public health curriculum and student-led groups.

Public health training programs


The Saturday Neighborhood Health Clinic offers medical students the opportunity to serve the community while also learning about public health through a practical, hands-on clinical experience.

View a video about the clinic from Medical Alumni and Development’s Mentors series:

Read an Outlook article about the Saturday Neighborhood Health Clinic »

  • Saturday Clinic Selective: This five-week selective offers an introduction to health administration, policy and economics as they relate to medical care for the underserved. Using Washington University’s student-run Saturday Neighborhood Health Clinic (SNHC) as a case study, students will learn how to run a free clinic, from daily clinic flow to patient follow-up to informed quality improvement; explore the landscape of health care services available to uninsured adults in the St. Louis area, as well as the SNHC’s relationship with these providers; and begin to unpack the structural and political complexities of health insurance. With this toolkit, students will assume responsibility for running the day-to-day operations of the SNHC.

“The most meaningful part of the week is that I felt the responsibility to make a change in the tough public health issues in the St. Louis area… As a future physician, it is our privilege and responsibility to address these issues and work with the community to improve their general health…”
– Student participant

  • Introduction to Public Health Selective: A five-week survey selective, highlighting applied epidemiology, health policy, health promotions and community planning, culminating in a year-long community-based service project.

This year’s Introduction to Public Health Selective will focus on the Anniversary of Ferguson, placing a public health lens on the social unrest. The shooting of Michael Brown Jr. on August 9th, 2014 sparked immediate protests and launched a nationwide movement calling for systemic changes and a deeper understanding of the roots of this tragedy and the subsequent upheaval. Five years later, some of the factors relevant then—poverty, racial profiling, segregation—are still contributing to the health of those in the St. Louis community.

Through the lens of Ferguson, the Selective will highlight key aspects of public health in St. Louis, from the social determinants of health to the behavioral and sociological factors contributing to health disparities. Students will hear from leaders in the community, activist, and public health officials on what the public health community should be doing to improve the health of those in Ferguson and other disadvantaged communities in the region.

  • Public Health Interest Group: A student affinity group that provides guest lecturers from national authorities in public health, networking for students interested in careers in public health and service opportunities.

Degree programs

Melvin Blanchard with residents

Washington University also offers degree programs in public health and population health.

  • MD/MPH Degree: Available exclusively to current Washington University School of Medicine students pursuing their Doctor of Medicine degree, students in this program earn a Master of Public Health degree from the Brown School in one additional year of study. Designed for medical students with an interest in population health, this program approaches improving community health from the perspective of prevention. Students gain an understanding of the social, economic, environmental and cultural determinants of health and learn to apply evidence-based approaches to community-level disease prevention, health promotion and health policy. MD/MPH Degree Program Overview »
  • MD/MPHS Degree: The Master of Population Health (MPHS) offered by the School of Medicine is a 10-month, full-time degree program for medical students, residents, fellows and attendings seeking training in clinical research methods. The curriculum emphasizes the role of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics in approaching clinical effectiveness and outcomes research for all medical fields.

Public health student groups


Students participate in a variety of activities and groups focused on public health. These include: