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Medical Education

The faculty in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health teach a required four-week clerkship, called Population Health in Practice (PHP), to fourth-year medical students. PHP is designed to instruct medical students about population-based approaches to health care and facilitate the application of epidemiologic principles to clinical decision-making. In the course, students learn how to define specific populations, ascertain their health-care needs, formulate interventions to meet those needs and evaluate the impact of those interventions.

PHP is a project that was created in 1986 with joint funding from the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Rockefeller Foundation. In 1992, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation joined the program. Over a 10-year period, 33 academic health centers across the United States and Canada participated. The KU School Of Medicine-Wichita introduced PHP as a course in the fall of 1998.

The goal in this course is to assist medical students to practice population-based medicine in these dynamic and changing times. The PHP focus is on defining, assessing, and providing health services for a specific population.


As part of this course, each student conducts a 'capstone' project; i.e., a project to cap off his or her learning experience. Students choose from a population of individuals and study some common health-related problem of this population with an eye toward ultimately improving the health of that population. All capstone projects are conducted under the supervision of clinical mentors and faculty of the PHP course.

To complete the Capstone Project, students work in groups of four to six. Each group completes one comprehensive population-based project during the month. The purpose of the capstone project is to:

  • Investigate a defined population selected from a real-life clinic practice or other community-based site.
  • Address a question of real interest to the practice or project site.
  • Implement the project in such a way that subsequent groups of students can build new projects based on their predecessors' reports and findings.
  • Present as a poster display on the final Thursday or Friday of class. The poster will be augmented by a brief oral presentation.
Last modified: Jul 26, 2018
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Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health
1010 N. Kansas
Wichita, KS 67214
(316) 293-2627