Wednesday, February 22, 2012
SC State University is gearing up for a new initiative that is the brainchild of several young Boston and Chicago-based physicians. The Tour for Diversity in Medicine has begun its inaugural bus tour, taking 11 doctors, dentists and medical school students from minority populations to five Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the South. SC State University will be the third stop on the tour. Students from SC State University and from surrounding institutions who would like to pursue a career in the health care profession will be able to attend this full day of premedical enrichment activities, to be held on Wed. Feb. 22, 2012 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in various locations on the SC State campus.
Made possible with a $210,000 award from the Aetna Foundation, the Tour for Diversity in Medicine aims to provide college students of color with a wide range of information and advice to plan for careers in medicine and dentistry and to ultimately diversify the health care profession. According to tour coordinators, SC State was chosen as a participating school because the institution is not closely partnered with any medical association. An additional contributing factor is the area’s high disparity in the health care industry. Although minority populations comprise more than 26 percent of the U.S. population, African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans combined represent only six percent of practicing physicians and five percent of dentists.
According to Joseph Thomas, director for the SC State University Career Center and a liaison between tour coordinators and the university, this tour is necessary to lessen these disparities by creating necessary resources for students.
“I applaud these individuals for coming up with this tour and for creating partnerships and getting the necessary funding to promote the health care industry and to mentor the students along the way,” says Thomas. “A lot of kids might attend medical or dental school, but if they don’t have that support base there, they don’t succeed. It’s key that these professionals coming from the top schools in the country share their experiences and advise our students on how to best navigate their way through the health care profession.”
Dr. Judith Salley-Guydon, chair for the Department of Biological and Physical Sciences, says that her department has over 300 majors, with 85 percent of those students interested in pursuing a health career. Salley-Guydon is equally excited about a tour that will cater to these students.
“The tour will provide an exceptional opportunity for our students to network with physicians and dentists who serve as national mentors in the profession,” says Salley-Guydon. “According to Dr. James Stukes, health professions advisor, there are more than 100 student members in the department’s Health Professions Society. Attending the event will help these students make a more informed choice about their career goals and become more competitive for professional school admissions.”
Professionals such as Alden Landry, M.D., an emergency room physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Mass., and Kameron Matthews, M.D., J.D. a family physician in Chicago, will be on hand to interact with students on topics ranging from the application process and admissions tests for entry into medical school, to choosing the right specialty and providing an overview of health disparities. Other topics for discussion include interviewing and presentation skills, as well as test taking skills and leadership.
The Aetna Foundation, sponsor for the Tour for Diversity in Medicine, says that cultivating leaders in the health care profession through mentorship and skill preparation is a necessity. “As our nation’s population becomes increasingly diverse, we need health care providers who have the cultural competency to engage their patients fully with their treatment and ensure good health outcomes,” says Gillian Barclay, D.D.S., Dr. Ph.H. vice president of the Aetna Foundation. “The Aetna Foundation is pleased to be the tour’s founding sponsor and supports this innovative initiative as part of our portfolio of programs aimed at developing health care leaders from underrepresented communities.”