University of South Florida

Scholarly Concentration Program promotes lifelong learning for medical students

Since 2006, the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine Scholarly Concentrations Program has helped broaden the inquisitive minds of hundreds of medical students.

Supported through the MCOM Office of Research, Innovation and Scholarly Endeavors (RISE),  the program aims to support the educational development of the college’s core medical students through opportunities for scholarly and research endeavors in areas of special interest.   Today,  470 of 499 core medical students participate the program, according to RISE data.

Ingrid Bahner, PhD, program co-director, describes it as an opportunity for medical students to explore topics related to medicine that are not part of their curriculum.

“The goal isn’t necessarily to create academic physicians.  The goal is to create a life-long commitment to the scholarly approach to the practice of medicine,” Dr. Bahner said.

In the beginning only Research, Public Health and Health Disparities were offered, said Susan Pross, PhD, who co-founded the program and is currently program co-director with Dr. Bahner.  It wasn’t anticipated to be as successful as it is, according to Dr. Pross.  Passionate students and faculty offered ideas for other concentrations as the program grew more popular.  The program grew to eight concentrations in just three years.  Today, there are 11 mind-broadening concentrations available to students.  The concentrations currently reflect how the interests of practicing physicians continue to evolve, Dr. Pross said.

It takes an interprofessional approach for the concentrations to have their maximum desired effect.  Staff and faculty from other University of South Florida and USF Health colleges, including the College of Engineering, Muma College of Business, Taneja College of Pharmacy and College of Public Health, are all part of what makes the program a success.

“From the beginning, it created opportunities for students to collaborate with other like-minded students and professors throughout all four years of medical school,” Dr. Pross said.  “This is a great avenue for students to continue their passions, or discover new ones.”


  • Biomedical Research
  • Health Disparities
  • Health Systems Engineering
  • Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Business in Medicine
  • International Medicine
  • Law and Medicine
  • Education
  • Medical Humanities
  • Medicine and Gender
  • Nutrition Research and Health
  • Public Health

Medical students are required to complete their capstone project by February of their fourth year.  Graduating students are recognized with a certificate of completion, a capstone book, and the distinction of wearing an SCP honor cord at commencement.


I chose to join the health disparities scholarly concentration because I wanted to be part of a team with other motivated students and professionals who share my passion to learn more about disparities in healthcare and take action against them. My experience in this concentration has been so helpful, enlightening, and enjoyable over the past 2 years. Teamwork is a priority with this group. We recently had a group of students work with several faculty members from the concentration to run a women’s health night free clinic, which was a wonderful opportunity to help the community and a great learning experience for students who are unaware of all the moving parts and effort that goes into putting on a free clinic. Additionally, the faculty leaders are always encouraging us to work on projects that we are passionate about and always willing to provide help at any step of the way, whether it’s finding a project, working on the methods, or presenting the final results. Lastly, the students in this concentration are very respectful and compassionate. It is a great environment to have open discussions and learn from one another.

Michelle Savoldy, Class of 2024, Health Disparities Scholarly Concentration

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