Sociology of Medicine, Knowledge, Education, Culture, and Social Inequalities


As a medical sociologist, a major tenet of my approach to research, teaching, and service is my belief that institutions of education and medicine have the responsibility to provide equitable conditions for students or patients to thrive. I am currently engaged in research projects on the inclusion of social sciences and humanities into medical education, the reproduction of inequality in the profession of medicine, and the diverse understandings of diversity, equity, and inclusion programming in professional schools. 

I study how educators, physicians, and policy makers apply knowledge to improve patient care and how the context in which these actors work impacts how they utilize knowledge. I address questions about how these actors understand the sources of health and healthcare disparities in the U.S. patient population, how they decide what kinds of knowledge are clinically relevant, and how they reproduce forms of inequality in their educational materials and interactional processes – particularly racial inequality. 

I take great delight and care in teaching and engaging with students. Teaching is one of the most tangible forms of public sociology, and thus I approach teaching with a desire to cultivate an empathic and inclusive learning environment for my students by addressing my power and privilege, identifying the central inequities that pattern social processes (including knowledge production), and systematically researching best practices in the literatures on teaching and learning. 

Curriculum Vitae

Selected Publications

  • 2019. Olsen, Lauren D. “The Conscripted Curriculum and the Reproduction of Racial Inequalities in Contemporary U.S. Medical Education.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 60(1): 55-68.
  • 2019. Martin, Isaac W., Jane L. Lopez, and Lauren D. Olsen. “Policy Design and the Politics of City Revenue: Evidence from California Municipal Ballot Measures.” Urban Affairs Review 55(5): 1312-1338.
  • 2016. Olsen, Lauren D. “It’s on the MCAT for a Reason”: Premedical Students and the Perceived Utility of Sociology.” Teaching Sociology 44(2): 73-82.

Courses Taught

  • Soc 1176. Introduction to Sociology
  • Soc 8391. Graduate Seminar on Medical Sociology