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Med school’s new method: treat an entire neighbourhood

What if your doctor were to treat not only what ails you, but the rest of your neighbourhood?

A Miami medical school is introducing a new medical education training, under which each of its students adopts an entire family and neighbourhood to treat, NPR reports.

Educators at Florida International University's College of Medicine tell NPR the approach gets students thinking beyond an individual patient's disease.

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Dr. Joe Greer, who helped design the school's community-based curriculum, says a student might consider why a patient is diabetic, for example.

"Well, maybe it's because they're obese. Why are they obese? Well, maybe it's the type of food they have access to, and they're in a poor neighbourhood, and they have no access to fresh fruits of vegetables," he says. "Why aren't they exercising? Well, the gangs sort of prevent you from doing that. Plus, it's South Florida. It's 100 degrees in the summer, 70 per cent humidity, and there's no shade or pools in these poor neighbourhoods."

The doctors at the university intend to make measurable improvements in the health and quality of life in the neighbourhoods they've adopted, NPR says.

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