AMA Wire

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

This Week's News

Help inspire minority students to pursue medicine as a career

Help inspire minority students to pursue medicine as a career

Physicians can encourage young minority students to become the physicians of tomorrow, making a difference in students' individual lives and the larger community, through the AMA's Doctors Back to School™ program.

On June 15, AMA members will meet with students from Chicago Public Schools and the City Colleges of Chicago during a Doctors Back to School career and wellness event prior to the Annual Meeting of the AMA House of Delegates. Hosted by the AMA Minority Affairs Section and the AMA Medical Student Section, the event will give students an opportunity to learn more about the medical profession through interactions with physicians and medical students.

Physicians and medical students can register online to be a part of this half-day event.

As a national program, Doctors Back to School equips physicians to conduct events like this one in their own communities. The program introduces students—particularly those from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups—to professional role models in their community, demonstrating that medicine is an attainable career for anyone.

"My message to the students is that they can pursue a career in medicine if that's what they want to do," said Maurice Sholas, MD, an AMA member who recently participated in a Doctors Back to School event in Atlanta. "They just need to work hard and work together, like doctors and nurses, in order to reach their goals."

The program provides an online kit to help physicians coordinate an event, which typically lasts 20 to 60 minutes. The kit covers every step of planning and executing the activity, from contacting a school or community organization to sending a follow-up note after the event. The kit provides a checklist of possible activities, sample talking points, tips for a successful presentation and questions students ask most frequently.

About 9 percent of physicians are African-American, Hispanic or Native American, although these underrepresented groups make up nearly one-quarter of the U.S. population and are expected to constitute one-third of the population within the next three decades. A significant gap exists between non-minority Americans and their minority counterparts, who lag behind on nearly every health indicator, including health care coverage, life expectancy and disease.

Increasing the number of minority physicians, who are more likely to practice in underserved areas and provide care for minority, poor, underinsured and uninsured patients, can help close this gap.