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Urban Bioethics Track


Dr. Stephanie Spivack (Clinical) —

Dr. Nora Jones (Master’s Program) —



Temple is located in one of the most socioeconomically disadvantaged zip codes in the city.  The patients we care for face a number of challenges, including low health literacy, limited access to safe housing, poverty, and poor access to comprehensive health care.  These disparities stem from structural, political, and social forces.  The Urban Bioethics track was developed for residents who are looking to build a strong foundation and a deeper understanding of social determinants of health, health disparities, community engagement, and the role of ethics in health, laws, and policy.

This track offers a rare opportunity to earn a Master’s Degree in Urban Bioethics (MAUB) during residency. Temple is the only residency program in the country to offer this type of degree within an Internal Medicine residency. The coursework is offered through the Temple University Center for Urban Bioethics (CUB), which approaches health equity as an ethical problem, with the mission of eliminating health disparities through education and community-focused research.

The master's program was designed with the medical professional in mind and offers a large degree of flexibility for completing courses around clinical rotations. Coursework begins in the second year of residency and consists of seminars which are held in the late afternoons. These are recorded and available for viewing at a later time on Canvas (the university-wide course web management system), which means that residents can still participate in coursework even when schedules conflict with the lecture. Some courses are entirely online. There are also electives, independent study projects, and a master's thesis, which is guided and mentored by both course directors and track directors. It is also possible to obtain a Certificate in Urban Bioethics by completing the core coursework without completing a thesis.  Additionally, and excitingly, Temple’s resident benefits include tuition remission for this master's program!

In addition to the master’s coursework, track members will participate in two elective weeks each academic year dedicated to Urban Bioethics.  These weeks are structured to give participants time to complete academic assignments, reflect on their experiences, and dive deeper into areas of interest. 

Please see the master's program website at this link for more information about the program. Additionally, a sample schedule can be found at this link

“I chose to come to Temple for my Internal Medicine residency because I knew I wanted to work to address healthcare disparities.  As a resident, I felt that many of the issues my patients faced were out of my control.  These issues, like poor health literacy, access to safe housing, and access to healthy food, had a much bigger impact on their overall health than the medicines I was prescribing.  The Urban Bioethics track allowed me to explore the root causes of these disparities, and how to recognize and address them.  During residency, I also became interested in Infectious Diseases and Addiction Medicine, two areas of medicine with their own unique sets of bioethical issues.  Being a part of the Urban Bioethics track gave me the space to explore these issues in depth.  I ended up staying at Temple for my fellowship in infectious diseases, and ultimately as an attending physician.  I use my Urban Bioethics training every day to help address the ethical issues that come up routinely while practicing medicine in our disadvantaged urban area.”
- Stephanie Spivack, MD, MA, Internal Medicine Class of 2019

“The Urban Bioethics Track was one of the main reasons for my initial interest in Temple IM Residency. The opportunity to learn more about bioethical principles in the urban setting, while caring for patients in that setting, offered me a 360-degree view of healthcare access and delivery in the North Philadelphia community (and across the country). This unique program is unlike anything available at other residencies. It has helped me to grow in my understanding of our healthcare system and its issues, to better advocate for my current and future patients. It also introduced me to classmates from other backgrounds, expanding my perspective on healthcare outside of my own experiences in the hospital and clinic. In my career, I hope to use this experience to continue to engage with my patients' communities, to advocate for impactful policy change at the local level, and to educate my colleagues on the ethical principles at play in dense, diverse, and disparate healthcare environments.”
- Katie Vanchiere, Internal Medicine Class of 2022

How and When to Apply

Interested residents apply for this track during the winter of intern year. The application consists of the resident’s CV and a personal statement expressing their reason for interest in the program. Previous work or volunteer experience with underserved populations (prior to Temple residency) will be considered, but it is not required in order to apply. A background in ethics is not required. Because of the additional coursework required, applicants must be in good standing at the time of application.

The Urban Bioethics Track residents at Temple University Hospital