Behavioral and Social Sciences

The Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSS) Theme centers on the patient as a person; the impact of illness on the person, the entire family and social support system; and the essential relationship between the patient and physician.

This theme is thread across the four-year curriculum to help students understand the complex, interconnected, biopsychosocial sources of health and illness, in order to help heal the whole person.

The BSS Theme aims to deepen students’ empathy, perspective, clinical intuition and relationship skills. Through reflection and self-reflection, BSS sessions are designed to promote deep respect for the students' and every individual’s strengths, struggles, worldviews, identity, emotions, values and diversity; to help students appreciate and address barriers to healthy living and medical adherence; and to broaden students’ thinking about the ancestral, family, social dynamics and psychological factors that contribute to illness, health and well-being.

Goals of the BSS theme are to help students achieve excellence in:

  • Offering trauma-informed patient care.
  • Diagnostic thinking, treatment planning, resource and resilience building.
  • Enhancing patients’ motivation to change health behavior.
  • Demonstrating compassion, humanity, core personal strengths and virtues.
  • Communicating, resolving conflicts and modeling exceptional interpersonal skills with all colleagues, patients and family members.
  • Developing sustainable self-care attitudes and habits.
  • Demonstrating social, emotional and ethical intelligence in decision-making.
  • Demonstrating professionalism in all interactions as a medical student and future physician.

By integrating the behavioral and social sciences with the biomedical sciences, we hope students will appreciate how human development, social, societal and family factors, as well as personality and coping each impact health, mental health, patient well-being and physician care.

We hope students will enhance their skills in self-reflection; develop further insight and discernment skills; heighten their clinical intuition; embody the highest levels of professionalism; become highly sought out for residency positions; and cultivate physician relationships that inspire and heal people and families across all settings and specialties.

To get more information or to contribute to the development of the Behavioral and Social Sciences Theme, please contact Gina Touch-Mercer, PhD.


Gina Touch-Mercer, PhD
Behavioral Sciences Theme

Gina Touch-Mercer, PhD