Office of Social Accountability, Professionalism and Community and Global Engagement

For over a century the University of the Incarnate Word has dedicated its teaching, research and service efforts on the advancement of knowledge for the common good and the development of concerned and enlightened citizens. The new School of Osteopathic Medicine (UIWSOM) is built on a foundation of Social Accountability (http://healthsocialaccountability.org), embracing UIW’s focus on social justice and community service. 

The World Health Organization defines social accountability as the obligation of medical schools to direct education, research and service activities towards addressing the priority health concerns of the community, region or nation that they are mandated to serve. The growing emphasis worldwide on the social accountability of medical schools comes from an awareness that our next generation of physicians need to be better prepared to anticipate and respond to health disparities and the priority health concerns of the communities they will serve. UIWSOM has developed a medical curriculum to prepare future physicians for the ethical, compassionate and altruistic practice of medicine. Our aim is to ensure quality, equity, relevance and effectiveness in health care delivery.

Demonstrating social accountability to patients, society, and the profession has always been a key feature in osteopathic medical training. Social accountability is part of the history of the osteopathic profession, its schools, and osteopathic medical practice. Osteopathic primary care faculty members are well positioned to serve as role models for socially accountable practice. Osteopathic physicians have historically been committed to community involvement and public services for the common good. This is role-modeled to students and residents, and assists in professional identity formation that meets societal needs. The osteopathic profession has also traditionally focused on prevention and wellness, recognizing that practices and policies that fail to consider ways of addressing disparities and the healthcare needs of marginalized populations are unlikely to have the desired impact on health outcomes.