Population Health Scholar Track

PHST Scholars volunteering at Martha's Table's Joyful Market in February 2018.
Scholars volunteering at Martha's Table's Joyful Market in February 2018.


The Population Health Scholar Track is a comprehensive, longitudinal curriculum in population health. It includes seminar discussions, a rigorous outcomes-based scholarly project, and a health policy and public health elective. The goal of our track is to provide students with foundational population health knowledge and research skills which will enable them to approach clinical care with a broader understanding of the determinants of health. The Population Health Scholar Track trains students to become leaders who will promote health equity for their patients and communities. Students who complete all of the components receive special distinction as a Population Health Scholar upon graduation. The track objectives, curriculum, yearly requirements and assessment provide more information about this longitudinal program.


Monica Ajinkya, MD and Richard Waldhorn, MD are the track directors. Alison Huffstetler, MD is the track’s research director. Our faculty advisors are Dr. Rachel Scott, Dr. Alison Huffstetler, Dr. Seble Kassaye, Dr. Benjamin Osborne, Dr. Alex Montero, Dr. Richard Waldhorn, Dr. Kim Bullock, Dr. Sneha Daya, Dr. Erin Hall, and Dr. Yalda Jabbarpour.

Application Process

Applications are open to all first-year Georgetown University School of Medicine (GUSoM) medical students. The Office of Medical Education (OME) determines the application process and timeline for all academic tracks, including the Population Health Scholar Track. A committee of GUSoM faculty selects scholars after a careful review of the applications. The Dean for Student Affairs determines students’ eligibility and then, the OME sends an offer email to accepted students, which students can accept or reject. Once participation in the track is confirmed, students will receive a list of summer research practicum sites for ranking. Each of our chosen sites has been well vetted and will provide an opportunity to learn population health research skills that should apply to any field. Students may not receive their top choices for summer research. Previous year’s track projects can be viewed below, however, the sites may change from year to year. If an applicant has identified a new site not on the list, they need to email a brief abstract of the proposed summer practicum project to the track director, Monica Ajinkya, MD by February 1, 2024; due dates are determined by the OME. The proposal must show a well-thought-out execution plan. If the project proposal is approved, the scholar will be responsible for identifying a research mentor. 

“The Population Health Scholar Track was one of my single most formative longitudinal experiences in Georgetown. A major benefit is the mentorship that you receive from individuals who work on population health issues, including track directors, lectures, or those that you work with on research and rotations. It’s really about gaining those connections and learning directly from those individuals.” – Stephen Kane, M2021


Summer Research Projects

Population health focuses on improving the health outcomes of the overall population. An important step in achieving this is addressing the health inequities of the subpopulations in greatest need. A core component of our training is the practical experience students gain when they complete a mentored 7-week summer research project addressing health equity. The research projects most commonly address the structural or social determinants of health in the District of Columbia at various organizations. Past projects have organized/supported/facilitated breast cancer screening for Black women and food insecurity screening for families served by the pediatric mobile van. See below for the projects each cohort completed.

Health Policy Elective

In their fourth year, students enroll in a month-long health policy and public health elective with residents and fellows from throughout the MedStar Health system. The elective includes didactic lectures by Georgetown faculty from the medical school, Law Center, School of Nursing and Health Studies, and the McCourt Public Policy school as well as experts in public health and public policy from other academic centers and think tanks.  Students and residents also participate in site visits to state, local and national public health and health policy agencies and the Congress  where they have the opportunity to meet with current and former national public health leaders.  A population health community engagement project, advocacy work,  and an introduction to population health data science skills are also part of this elective.

“If you are someone who came to medical school really interested in the social determinants of health, advocacy, and public health research, then this track is absolutely for you. You not only learn about the health care disparities, but also how to research them. You learn a factual framework in order to think about health inequities and you learn how to propose interventions to combat them.” – Riva Desai, M2021


The scholars volunteer at Martha’s Table Joyful Market. Each year, they are assigned one DC elementary school, where they distribute fruits and vegetables and set up a table to promote health and wellness. They plan fun activities for the kids who stop by the table. They work in conjunction with Georgetown nursing students interested in public health to make this an interdisciplinary effort. The markets occur once per month on Wednesdays, 3 – 5pm. Volunteers arrive at 2:30pm and carpool from Georgetown to the market together as a group. Other medical students, faculty and staff are welcome to join.

Grand Rounds

  • July 15, 2020: Malika Fair, MD, MPH. Racism in Health: The Role of Academic Medicine (view recording)
  • June 2, 2017: Michael C. Lu, MD. Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Birth Outcomes: A Life-Course Perspective
  • April 18, 2016: John M. Auerbach, MBA. Population Health as Part of Health System Transformation: A National Perspective
  • June 1, 2015: Joshua Sharfstein, MD. Aligning Health Care for Health: Delivery Transformation, from Baltimore to the Nation

Dual MD/MPH Degree

The MD/MPH Program is a five-year program, with individuals completing the MPH between the third and fourth years of the MD program. Students interested in applying may submit the MPH portion of the application after completion of the second year of medical school. Please contact Tobie Smith, MD, MPH at ts881@georgetown.edu for questions regarding the MPH portion of the program.


For questions regarding the track, please contact Dr. Monica Ajinkya at ma1809@georgetown.edu

Track Coordinator Kedryn Berrian kedryn.berrian@georgetown.edu