University of Minnesota, Mayo Clinic Summer Program Seeks To Encourage More Minorities To Become Physicians in the State
A new educational program, called Minnesota's Future Doctors, was launched this week by the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic and seeks to encourage underserved minority and rural students to become physicians and practice in the state, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
According the Star Tribune, as the state's immigrant population continues to increase, many health care professionals are concerned that the current make up of practicing physicians and medical school students will not be able to meet the needs of a more diverse population. In addition, Minnesota is facing a "looming shortage" of primary care physicians, including those practicing pediatrics and internal medicine, according to the Star Tribune.
The program includes 23 students from various ethnicities and rural communities. The students all live in Minnesota, have completed their first year at a college or university, and have an average grade point average of 3.5. For six weeks over three consecutive summers, the students will participate in medical case studies, shadow physicians from different specialties, and prepare for the Medical College Admission Test and to enter medical school. Students this summer will spend most of their time at the University of Minnesota Medical School and next summer will shadow doctors at the Mayo Clinic.
The two medical schools are covering the cost of the program, including room and board, as well as a travel stipend and salary for students. The program is expected to reach full capacity in 2009, and organizers in 2009 plan to launch another program during the academic year for students not accepted to the summer sessions.
Organizers hope to help students gain acceptance into medical school and eventually encourage them to remain in the state. "I think a lot of it boils down to cultural competency," Gareth Forde, a UM medical student and co-founder of the program, said. Forde added, "Patients oftentimes come in with their ... own beliefs about healing, which are very different from the beliefs we have here and from Western medicine in general. It can be difficult to bridge the gap" (Tuna, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 6/13).