Stanford affiliates have launched a mentoring program for underrepresented minorities in health care, aimed at strengthening support for students in their medical careers.
The Under-Represented Minority Health Mentorship Circle (URM HMC) – made up of over 180 pre-medical undergraduates, medical students, residents, fellows, attending physicians and under-represented faculty members – seeks to help affiliates at all levels support each other through mentoring.
Members of URM HMC are divided into groups of 10 to 12 people comprising a mix of people at different stages of their careers. These modules serve as âmentoring circlesâ: members who are more advanced in their medical careers help support and promote younger members.
âOur goals are to help strengthen, strengthen and improve the pipeline to medicine for under-represented students through networking and sharing of resources,â said Program Co-Director and Second-Year Resident Physician Javier Howard.
Program co-founder Ezra Yoseph ’21, who came up with the idea for the pods, added: âI thought the idea of ââhaving pods, made up of members at different stages of their medical careers, would provide the opportunity for people of all levels. training not only to receive mentorship, but also to build community with one another.
The group is one of many efforts that Stanford Medicine Affiliates have launched to strengthen diversity and equity within their institution. Last summer, affiliates spoke out on the burden of the âminority taxâ at Stanford Medicine and championed diversity initiatives such as the creation of the CORE D, a physical space on campus where minority medical students can gather and organize. In 2017, affiliates founded Stanford Medicine Leadership training and promotion of diversity (LEAD) program, with the goal of creating diverse leadership at Stanford Medicine through training and mentorship.
According to the founders of URM HMC, the program was created to address the lack of support for underrepresented minorities in medicine and to work towards the inclusion and retention of these students throughout their careers.
âThis stems from the idea that there is a leaky pipeline in terms of medical pathways for a large number of underrepresented minorities in medicine,â said program co-founder Ronald Clinton ’21. âPeople start out with these ambitions of wanting to be a doctor, but somewhere along the way they’re not able to find the resources they need to be successful.â
âIf you don’t see someone who looks like you or who represents you, it is much more difficult to get to this stage in your medical career,â he added.
Clinton, who is also co-chair of the Stanford Black Pre-Med Organization, said he knows firsthand how difficult it can be to go through the medical school application process as a student under -represented.
âYou have all of these requirements that people expect from you – like research and volunteering, and then all of a sudden you come to this new environment where you have to know how to navigate the whole system,â Clinton said. “It’s very difficult to be in this environment where you are already a minority and where you know that you will be even more of a minority when you take the next steps in your career.”
According to Felipe Perez, associate dean for diversity in teaching at the medical school, the program tries to mitigate the impact of these challenges.
Perez, who serves as an advisor for residents and pre-medical in the program, said he got involved with URM HMC because he understood first-hand how crucial mentoring can be in the career of ‘a young.
âStanford has a lot of resources, but sometimes it’s hard to navigate them all,â Perez said. âSometimes you feel like you’re lost in the sea of ââall the great things Stanford has to offer, so it’s so important to have tips for leveraging all the resources.â
Co-director and pediatric critical care medicine researcher Monica Ruiz added that the program seeks to fill a gap, which she characterized as a lack of formal mentoring-focused programs for under-represented minorities at Stanford.
âWe wanted to close this gap in a way that does not increase the minority tax burden that is already imposed on people of color in medicine,â Ruiz said. “We did this by creating circles where we have all levels of training involved – that way they feed off each other and that tax is shared among the group.”
Ruiz explained that the medical circle structure teaches individuals how to be both mentors and mentees as members progress in their medical careers. She said the program not only recruits but retains minority students in this pipeline.
URM HMC members said their goals for the program were twofold: to strengthen support for underrepresented minorities at every stage of their medical careers, and to move towards a world in which the demographics of physicians match the patients they serve.
âWe need to have patients who feel comfortable talking to doctors about their illness and their health,â Perez said. âIf patients can’t trust the doctor, they won’t take the medication they’ve been prescribed, but if they have someone they trust who looks like them and represents them, that doctor will be able to provide more culturally appropriate care and the patient will do better. ”
For many program managers, the program’s mission is very close to home. Howard explained that as an African American he is his family’s first doctor, but his mother always made sure that his pediatrician growing up “was a black man, so I grew up with him as a black man. that model for me, and I never wondered if I could become a doctor.
Associate professor of otolaryngology Tulio Valdez, who heads the project’s faculty, said he was used to being the only Hispanic person in the room. But he wants to change that narrative for generations to come.
âIt’s right that our doctors represent the society we live in,â he said.
For Ruiz, getting involved in this program is a must.
âI’m where I am because people stepped in to mentor me,â Ruiz added. “I can live plan A where all I wanted to do is exactly what I do today, I think this program is a passionate obligation I owe to interns and healthcare professionals.”
The URM HMC program hosted its first event on April 21 – a panel of six underrepresented minority physicians spoke about work-life balance, impostor syndrome and obstacles to overcome with over 100 attendees.
âThe session itself was successful,â Ruiz said. âPeople stayed behind just to talk, which was an important step towards building a community.â
In the future, program officials hope to expand to include high school students.
âAs you go from high school to undergrad, you tend to see a lot of attrition,â Howard said. âMany students from under-represented minorities come from public schools that do not have a strong background in science and math, so these students may find it difficult to attend pre-medical classes.â
Administratively, Ruiz said program officials were working on a proposal to present to the Office of Diversity Medical Education (ODME) to seek their support to ensure the sustainability of the program.
âWe can only truly achieve health equity when the demographics of our physicians match the patients we serve, and we’re not there at all,â said Ruiz. âBringing the right people together in the room is vital, and we can do that by increasing diversity and strengthening this pipeline.â