Doctors of tomorrow: An innovative curriculum connecting underrepresented minority high school students to medical school.

Education for health (Abingdon, England)

PubMedID: 28406112

Derck J, Zahn K, Finks JF, Mand S, Sandhu G. Doctors of tomorrow: An innovative curriculum connecting underrepresented minority high school students to medical school. Educ Health (Abingdon). 2017;29(3):259-265.
BACKGROUND
Racial minorities continue to be underrepresented in medicine (URiM). Increasing provider diversity is an essential component of addressing disparity in health delivery and outcomes. The pool of students URiM that are competitive applicants to medical school is often limited early on by educational inequalities in primary and secondary schooling. A growing body of evidence recognizing the importance of diversifying health professions advances the need for medical schools to develop outreach collaborations with primary and secondary schools to attract URiMs. The goal of this paper is to describe and evaluate a program that seeks to create a pipeline for URiMs early in secondary schooling by connecting these students with support and resources in the medical community that may be transformative in empowering these students to be stronger university and medical school applicants.

METHODS
The authors described a medical student-led, action-oriented pipeline program, Doctors of Tomorrow, which connects faculty and medical students at the University of Michigan Medical School with 9th grade students at Cass Technical High School (Cass Tech) in Detroit, Michigan. The program includes a core curriculum of hands-on experiential learning, development, and presentation of a capstone project, and mentoring of 9th grade students by medical students. Cass Tech student feedback was collected using focus groups, critical incident written narratives, and individual interviews. Medical student feedback was collected reviewing monthly meeting minutes from the Doctors of Tomorrow medical student leadership. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis.

RESULTS
Two strong themes emerged from the Cass Tech student feedback: (i) Personal identity and its perceived effect on goal achievement and (ii) positive affect of direct mentorship and engagement with current healthcare providers through Doctors of Tomorrow. A challenge noted by the medical students was the lack of structured curriculum beyond the 1st year of the program; however, this was complemented by their commitment to the program for continued longitudinal development.

DISCUSSION
The authors propose that development of outreach pipeline programs that are context specific, culturally relevant, and established in collaboration with community partners have the potential to provide underrepresented students with opportunities and skills early in their formative education to be competitive applicants to college and ultimately to medical school.