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Foster Future Physician Leaders in Health Equity Today


Equity    Community    Learning    Justice


Aequitas Health was formed from the recognition of the significant health inequities that exist within the healthcare ecosystem. Highlighted by glaring health disparities coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, we recognized a groundswell of interest of medical students in their future positions as community leaders, positioned to improve health equity in not only their clinical practice but also in their neighborhoods. 
Aequitas Health was formed in 2021 to recognize a society of fellows dedicated to the cause of health equity and to eradicate health disparities in all shapes and fashion. The inaugural chapter was formed at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine, focused on the Native American communities of South Dakota as well as the health disparities that exist in the Black and Hispanic communities of the state.
11 Aequitas Health Chapters have been established in medical schools across the United States, with over 20 additional Aequitas Health Chapters in development
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Health equity is achieved when every person has the opportunity to “attain his or her full health potential” and no one is “disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of social position or other socially determined circumstances."
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)
Health equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. This requires removing obstacles to health such as poverty, discrimination, and their consequences, including powerlessness and lack of access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education and housing, safe environments, and health care.

Awards and Support

McNulty Foundation Catalyst Awardee


Why was Aequitas Health started?

Undergraduate medical students have long been champions of and advocates for equitable healthcare. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, medical students identified numerous inequities in their communities and created grassroots efforts to address these issues. Aequitas Health was formed to support, recognize, and reward the hard work medical students invest in improving health equity.

What is an Aequitas Health Chapter?

An Aequitas Health Chapter is similar to other national undergraduate medical student honor societies. Specifically, a local Aequitas Health Chapter will: 1) recognize 5-10% of a medical school class as Aequitas Health Honor Society Fellows 2) promote advocacy and research as Fellows are required to advance the cause of health equity within their communities through a project and 3) publicize the work of Fellows by publishing research, commentaries, and other works. Each local Chapter will determine the specifics of election and required advocacy/research projects.

What are the associated costs and benefits of starting an Aequitas Health Chapter?

There is a $100 annual fee to maintain a local Aequitas Health Chapter. At the graduation of each Fellow, the national organization will provide an Aequitas Health Honor Society certificate and a graduation cord to identify this honor visually. Additionally, the national organization will maintain the online publication portal for Fellows’ research, commentaries, and other works. Lastly, the fee will go toward organizational infrastructures such as web presence, federal taxes, and insurance. To minimize organization costs, the Aequitas Health Leadership Team, Advisory Board, and Board of Directors all serve without compensation.

What are the associated costs to medical students elected as an Aequitas Health Honor Society Fellow?

$0 – Upon election by the local Chapter, students will become lifetime Fellows at no cost. Medical students are already under unbelievable financial strain from the costs of medical education. Being elected as a Fellow should be an honor and not contribute to additional financial burdens.

What are the responsibilities of a local Aequitas Health Chapter?

Before accepting new Fellows, the local Chapter will need to establish a leadership structure and charter to outline their election standards and expected Fellow projects based, in part, on a standard charter format by the national organization. Additional responsibilities include establishing local infrastructure capable of supporting new Fellows in their health equity project work. Any required project resources, including funding or mentoring, must come from the local Chapter.

How do I start a Chapter?

Get in touch with Aequitas Health at Connect with school leadership to get approval for new student organization formation


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