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Medical Education

UCSF medical students selected for STARS community of learners

December 1, 2017

First-year medical students Heather Ma and Marissa Silverman will join 48 other medical students nationwide to learn about value in medicine through the new STARS (Students and Trainees Advocating for Resource Stewardship) program. STARS was launched by Dell Medical School with funding from the ABIM Foundation and the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation.

The program was developed to identify and coach 50 student leaders in the core tenets of value-based care to create better health outcomes for patients at lower costs.

“Medical training environments have life-long effects on physicians’ medical practices, so if we want to reorient the system toward value, we should start as far upstream as we can in medical training,” said Chris Moriates, MD, assistant dean for healthcare value at the Dell Medical School, where he is creating an innovative curriculum for value-based healthcare for undergraduate, graduate, and continuing medical education. “By engaging medical students in introducing the concepts of Choosing Wisely into their own training, we expect to have ripple effects that will eventually reach all corners of our health care system.”

The Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation and ABIM Foundation provided funding for STARS, which will kick off tomorrow with a one-day summit at the Dell Medical School for first-year medical students.

Through the STARS program, students will review ABIM Foundation’s Choosing Wisely value-based care campaign, along with medical society recommendations. They will use these and other tools, including the Teaching Value in Health Care learning network, to drive change at their medical schools and to improve the value of patient care they provide through their training. The STARS students will work with peers to develop ways to avoid unnecessary medical tests, treatments and procedures that might be harmful to patients and contribute to excessive health care costs.

The U.S. STARS program mirrors the successful STARS program started in 2015 by Choosing Wisely Canada with support from the ABIM Foundation. Over the first year of the program, Canadian medical students led several projects to advance Choosing Wisely. STARS is becoming an international movement, with the Netherlands and Japan recently launching their own programs.


Heather Ma: “I'm thrilled at the opportunity to represent UCSF at the U.S. STARS program. I think it is critical for medical students to be aware of and engaged with value-based care early in our training: both because we will be future advocates for our patients and future leaders tasked with improving our healthcare landscape. I'm looking forward to participating in the national dialogue and learning from fellow medical students from across the country.” 

Ma attended Northwestern University and majored in Social Policy. While at Northwestern, she was an active member and student leader with the Northwestern Community Development Corps (NCDC), a student-run organization that that seeks to engage students in community development. She also volunteered at CommunityHealth, a free health clinic in Chicago that serves uninsured and underserved adults. After graduating from Northwestern, Ma worked as a research assistant at the American Institutes for Research, where she worked in the health policy and research division.


Marissa Silverman: “I am very excited and honored to be selected for the STARS program. I am especially interested in equity and patient centeredness as key components of the high-value care paradigm, and the ways in which current value-centered interventions or guidelines may or may not promote equitable care delivery. I hope to one day serve as a physician leader to develop care policies and structures that achieve high value care for all people, no matter their race, gender identity, income, insurance status, or any other limiting factor.”

Silverman attended UC Berkeley and Johns Hopkins, studying public health. Before coming to UCSF, she spent three years as a researcher at the RAND Corporation, as part of a team evaluating the Integrated Healthcare Association’s California Value Based Pay for Performance program. She traveled throughout California interviewing frontline physicians and leaders of physician organizations and hospitals to understand how they are working to bend their cost curves and improve quality, ultimately to achieve higher value care. As a researcher, Silverman became familiar with the strategies organizations are adopting, such as the Choosing Wisely recommendations. “I saw first-hand the challenges providers are facing, but also the creativity and innovation that is fueling change and resulting in better and safer care.”

Learn more about the STARS Program.