Wednesday, December 11, 2013 10:07 AM
Photo courtesy of Errol Dunlap of Tour for Diversity in Medicine. A future medical school student gets her blood pressure tested Saturday during the Tour for Diversity in Medicine event at Georgetown University’s campus.
Published on: Wednesday, October 02, 2013
By Tracey Gold Bennett
What do you want to be when you grow up?
It’s not uncommon for students to be asked that very question about their professional aspirations. For the very first time, a contingent of Prince George’s County students got a chance to visit Georgetown University and peer into their potential future as medical students as part of Tour for Diversity in Medicine.
Students participating in the tour visit different medical schools around the country and engage in activities geared toward familiarizing them with the application process, what happens after they’re accepted, matriculation and achieving success in medical school.
Components of the tour included a full day session about the medical school application process, the MCAT or Medical School Admission Test, a primer on interviewing skills and an overview of health disparities facing minorities.
Students interact one-on-one with mentors like Dr. Kameron Matthews, one of the founders of the tour, who offered personal insights about how to build a successful career in medicine or dentistry.
“By reaching students early, even at the high school level, and engaging in a face-to-face sessions with professionals who come from similar backgrounds, we hope to empower students to consider a career in medicine early — and to imagine what’s possible for patients and their communities with a more diverse physician population,” Matthews said.
There are about 47,000 medical school slots, but less than a third of these are held by African-Americans, Latinos or Native Americans, Matthews said.
“Currently in the medical field African Americans make up 3 percent of the profession, while Latinos only comprise 1 percent. This is in spite of the fact that these two groups currently account for 41 percent of the U.S. population,” the doctor said. “Research shows that patients who receive care from doctors of the same background are more satisfied with their care and more engaged in their treatment.”
Matthews discussed social and economic challenges that minority students face, which can impact on their academic and career trajectory.
“There are several obstacles to overcome for minorities entering the medical field. For example, these young adults may be the first in their families to graduate from high school or go to college. There are also strong financial obstacles to going to medical school,” she said.
The Tour for Diversity in Medicine provides the support and mentor-ship students need to be successful in their future.
“By reaching future physicians and dentists of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds by forming local connections, we hope to be able to fulfill a national need,” Matthews said.
Parents also participated in sessions during the tour.
“A popular session is geared towards parents and caregivers, where parents of current or past medical students talk to other parents to help them understand what their student may experience and where they may need more support and understanding,” Matthews said.
More information is available about the Tour for Diversity in Medicine at www.tour4diversity.org.