Public Health attempts to break with the traditional medical paradigm centered on the biologistic health-disease model. This study aimed to: evaluate courses in public health in the undergraduate medical curriculum at the State University of Ceará (UECE), Brazil, characterize undergraduate medical students'perceptions concerning the contribution of these courses to their relationship to patients; describe students'knowledge of issues related to each course program, as possible changes in their arrangement; and analyze the concept of Public Health from the students'perspective. This was a descriptive study with a quantitative approach, conducted at UECE and in health services operating in affiliation with the medical school. From a total of 240 medical students enrolled at UECE, a convenience sample of 129 students was selected. Data were obtained with a semi-structured questionnaire. The data analysis used PASW, version 17.0. Among the participants, 112 (86.8%) emphasized the positive effect of courses in public health on their relationship to patients. Ninety-one students (70.5%) stressed the heavy course load and 91 (70.5%) were unfamiliar with the course program. Fifty-two (47.7%), suggested reducing the number of disciplines and credits in public health, and 36 (26%) were unable to define public health as a concept. In conclusion, public health is essential in training future physicians, but there is an urgent need to reformulate the course curriculum and to change attitudes among the course faculty.
Medical Education; Education; Medical Students; Public Health; Integrality