Innovative pathways promote diversity in the medical and scientific workforce

Education has traditionally been seen as the key to opportunity in the United States, but access to the quality education needed for economic advancement has been unequal.

The AMA National Health Equity Grand Rounds event focused on programs that increase access to higher education and careers in medicine and science. Among them was keynote speaker Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski III, who served as president of Maryland for 30 years and led the Meyerhoff Scholars Program, which is at the forefront of efforts to increase the diversity of future leaders in science and technology. Also includes the University of Baltimore County. , engineering and related fields.

Since 1993, the program has graduated more than 1,400 students. As of June, graduates of the program had achieved the following results: 426 Ph.D. graduates, including 74 M.D. degrees; Graduates of the program have earned more than 160 MD or DO degrees and more than 330 master’s degrees, primarily in engineering, computer science, and related fields.

Hrabowski said success can lead to more success as more students realize what they are capable of. He cited the example of Dr. Kizmekia Corbett, who did pivotal work on messenger RNA COVID-19 vaccine development and ultimately partnered with Moderna.

“I don’t realize how much change Corbett has made in just the last three years,” Hrabowski said.

“As I’ve talked to women of all races, a little black girl from Maryland’s Eastern Shore, people from her hometown in rural North Carolina, people don’t think about the possibility of being a person of color or being black. I never thought about it. Other people are developing vaccines,” added Hrabowski, who retired last year.

Watch this recent episode of the AMA’s “Prioritizing Equity” series to learn how the U.S. Supreme Court’s affirmative action ruling undermines policies focused on increasing the diversity of physicians essential to the healthcare ecosystem. Let’s learn what’s going on.

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Hrabowski’s “Four Pillars of University Success in Science” TED talk has been viewed more than 1.6 million times, and Hrabowski summarized the key points in his keynote:

  • At both the college and high school levels, teachers need to set high expectations for their students from the beginning.
  • Build community among science, technology, engineering, and math students and faculty. Rather than viewing classmates as competition for grades, internships, and jobs, students should work together and get to know each other as colleagues.
  • Researchers breed researchers, so opportunities for experiential learning, rather than just lectures, are essential to success.
  • Engage with students because it’s important to have faculty who are truly invested in their success.

Sanjay Desai, M.D., AMA’s senior vice president for medical education, moderated the event and noted the importance of local community college systems, noting that many people believe that “if you want to create social mobility, you need to be in your community.” “We should pay attention to this,” he said. university system. ”

Panelist Dan Ferguson, director of the Washington State Allied Health Center of Excellence, agreed.

Ferguson, who helps the state’s community colleges meet the needs of the health workforce, described Washington’s infrastructure, which includes 34 community colleges with health workforce-related curriculum. Each organization has a community advisory board that informs the organization of local workforce needs.

Community colleges also offer instruction, child care, and tuition assistance.

“The focus is on overcoming barriers that students may face,” Ferguson explained.

Community college students are targeted by the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) School of Medicine’s recruiting efforts.

In the experience of the University of California, Davis, medical students in community college programs often go on to specialize in primary care, practicing in underserved areas with historically limited access to health care. That means it’s highly likely.

“We are a public school committed to meeting the needs of our local and regional workforce,” said Mark C. Henderson, MD, AMA member, professor of internal medicine and associate dean for admissions at the University of California, Davis. said.

Unfortunately, “medical schools are not very reflective of society as a whole,” Dr. Henderson said, noting that about 25 percent of medical students come from families with incomes in the top 5 percent of the U.S. population.

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Dr. Jada Bassey-Jones, professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, says it’s important for learners and patients to see diverse faculty in clinical encounters, classroom lectures, and in leadership positions across the health care system. said.

For medical students and residents, Dr. Bassey-Jones said the key is to “listen to and harness the energy and passion of the learner.”

At Emory, this was done in collaboration with internal medicine residents who worked with program leaders to develop a set of health justice standards that were reviewed annually for advancement and realignment.

“This initiative has energized both trainees and faculty, recruited more diverse trainees into the program, and helped streamline silos,” according to a trainee report published in the magazine. There is. General Internal Medicine Journal.

“They talked about moving us from performative change to tangible change,” said Dr. Bassey-Jones. “These standards hold us accountable for progress, but importantly, these standards have led to real structural change.”

The next National Health Equity Grand Rounds event is scheduled for October 10th. Register now.

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