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One Semester in Detroit: The Henry Ford Health System Clinical Rotations

Hi, I’m Ione and I’m writing today about the six-month Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) rotation block!

I initially decided to participate in the Henry Ford Health System rotation block because I had come to medical school knowing that I wanted to engage deeply with health disparities, and I wanted to make health disparities a focus of my M3 Branches curriculum. Although I’ve loved my rotations at UofM, I knew I would learn some different lessons about health disparities by rotating at HFHS, and especially at the HFHS main hospital, which is a safety net hospital serving the Detroit area. I applied to participate over the summer of my M2 year, and started my first rotation in January of my M3 year.

Exploring Eastern Market in Detroit! On Saturdays, Eastern Market hosts an enormous farmers’ market. One Sunday every May, Eastern Market hosts “Flower Day,” which is a huge farmers’ market all for flowers.

For my six months at HFHS, I moved to Detroit and lived on campus at Henry Ford Hospital in an apartment building especially for students and residents. I had six, one-month rotation blocks: one month each of Ambulatory Care, Labor and Delivery, Trauma Surgery, and the Medical ICU, and two research blocks.

My rotations at HFHS spanned a broad spectrum of clinical care contexts. I found that on each of the services at HFHS, I learned something different about how clinicians are working to meet the health needs of the city of Detroit.  For example, on my Ambulatory Care rotation, I spent time at four different Federally Qualified Health Centers around the city of Detroit. On this rotation, I learned a lot about just how diverse FQHCs can be with huge variation in organizational structures, challenges at each clinic, funding streams, and patient populations. (I also met many inspiring clinicians passionate about delivering great primary care during this rotation!)

My Labor and Delivery rotation taught me a lot about the migration patterns that are bringing young people and families to Detroit right now: I routinely met patients from Mexico and Latin America, as well as Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, and Bangladesh, and I gained a better appreciation of the specific needs of immigrant patients. Each of these rotations taught me something different about health disparities, and efforts to address and reduce health disparities, in the context of Detroit.

Trying out Detroit Style Pizza!

Living in Detroit was itself another amazing part of the HFHS rotation block! Students who had completed this rotation before me gave me a list of great things to do to explore Detroit. While I was there, I added my own favorite places to the list. For anyone wanting to learn more about Detroit, here’s a list of recommendations:


Taqueria el Rey

Mi Pueblo

Detroit Vegan Soul

Cedarland (Dearborn)


Pie Sci

Eater Detroit (great food blog about the restaurant scene in Detroit)

Golden Curry at Ima! So so tasty. I also very much recommend the ramen!


Flowers of Vietnam




Detroit Historical Society

Heidelberg Project

Motown Museum

Detroiters Speak lecture series

Eastern Market

Dequindre Cut Parkway

Still on my list of places to visit/try:

Rose’s Fine Foods

Sweet Potato Sensations

Bonoful Sweets & Cafe

Dabls MBAD African Bead Museum

Detroit Soup (Microgranting Dinner)

Baker’s Keyboard Lounge (Jazz Lounge)

Got other great recommendations of things to do in Detroit?? I’d love to hear them! Email me at