To gain structural competency, Metzl says physicians must first adopt an attitude of "structural humility" and accept that they may not understand many of the issues confronting their patients and must therefore be willing to collaborate with community activists, local political leaders and the patients themselves.
Metzl says the idea of adopting structural competency courses as part of medical school or pre-med education is growing in popularity among medical students.
"Medical students are seeking us out for this particular kind of stuff. We are seeing a lot of desire among socially active medical students for this kind of training. They are frustrated they're not getting it," he says. "It is incumbent upon medical schools to listen to that. Curriculum is very tight but medical students are demonstrating that there is a need for this kind of training. The market bears that out. When medical students graduate and enter the real world, training in health economics are pretty important for the careers they are pursuing."