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Future physicians: High school students in Detroit get hands-on training

30% 

OF THE U.S. POPULATION IS 

AFRICAN AMERICAN & HISPANIC

 

YET ONLY  10%  OF PRACTICING PHYSICIANS COME FROM THESE BACKGROUNDS

 

THE U-M 

MEDICAL SCHOOL 

IS WORKING TO

CHANGE 

THE

FACE

AND FUTURE

OF HEALTHCARE

 

Jonathan F. Finks, MD

Associate Professor of Surgery

Faculty Advisor, Doctors of Tomorrow

University of Michigan 

We know that the quality of care for underrepresented patients actually may improve if they’re taken care of by physicians that look like them.

 

Gabriel
9th Grader

I’ve always wanted to be a doctor.

 

Na’ja
9th Grader

I would prefer going into surgery, but all I want to do is help people.

 

SINCE 2012, THE U-M MEDICAL SCHOOL 

HAS COLLABORATED WITH DETROIT’S 

CASS TECH HIGH SCHOOL ON THE 

DOCTORS OF TOMORROW

PROGRAM

 

[Finks]
This program was born out of an observation that there weren’t a lot of people of color in the medical school. And I saw that Detroit was 35 miles away and I didn’t understand like why we weren’t getting some of these really smart kids from Detroit. It made me realize that there’s a disconnect, that we weren’t doing enough to reach out to them. 

 

Gurjit Sandhu, PhD

Assistant Professor of Surgery

Surgical Education Scientist

University of Michigan

These students are remarkable. They go to Cass Tech because they are bright, they’re motivated.

 

ONCE A MONTH, CASS TECH

STUDENTS COME TO U-M TO:

BE MENTORED BY 

MEDICAL STUDENTS

 

SHADOW DOCTORS

 

LEARN CLINICAL SKILLS & 

SURGICAL TECHNIQUES

 

[?not sure who is speaking – maybe Na’ja?]
We got to work with the da Vinci robot, and it was like robotics, [??] so that was really cool.

 

[? not sure, maybe Sandhu?]
You can just see them beaming, and they really start to get this feeling of “I can do this.”

 

Velma Snow

Assistant Principal

Cass Technical High School

Detroit, Michigan

Programs like this give the students an opportunity to see that they’re in charge of their future.

 

SINCE ITS INCEPTION,

DOCTORS OF TOMORROW HAS INSPIRED

MORE THAN 230 STUDENTS

20 ARE NOW UNDERGRADS AT U-M

 

Fahmida Khatun

U-M Sophomore

Former Doctors of Tomorrow Student

I knew I wanted to go into medical school and Doctors of Tomorrow, they offered me that, like, inside look into the medical school.

 

Rico Ozuna-Harrison

U-M Sophomore

Former Doctors of Tomorrow Student

It helped me to stay focused and, by doing so, inspired me.

 

AT THE END OF EACH YEAR,

THE PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS PRESENT

THEIR FINAL PROJECTS

AT CASS TECH

 

EACH PROJECT EXAMINES &

OFFERS A SOLUTION TO

A HEALTH ISSUE

IN THEIR COMMUNITY

 

Alison Milen

Medical Student

Doctors of Tomorrow Mentor

Part of this program is meant to encourage them to be leaders and change agents in their community.

 

[Na’ja]
Regardless of if it’s a big impact or a small impact, I’m helping somebody at the end of the day.

 

Karen Hoi

Medical Student

Operations Director, Doctors of Tomorrow

Being able to be part of Doctors of Tomorrow and help run it has been a reminder of why I go into medicine. 

 

[Finks]
Almost all of them will tell me that this was absolutely their favorite thing that they did in medical school. And it’s my favorite thing that I do. 

 

Chevaz Thomas

Medical Student

Doctors of Tomorrow Mentor

This is great that it happens at the University of Michigan and yeah it’s great that it happens with Cass Tech. But these type of programs need to happen at all the schools in Michigan.

Donna

My name is Donna, and I’m gonna* be a pediatric emergency physician.

*[She actually says “Ima” but hopefully people will hear that as “I’m gonna”]

 

[no name]
Cardio-thoracic surgeon

 

[no name]
Pediatrician

 

Na’ja

Surgeon

 

[no name]
My name is Tamor [??] and I am a doctor of tomorrow.

By Jina Sawani and Helen Korneffel
Cass Tech students learn about robotics through the University of Michigan's Doctors of Tomorrow program.

Working with robotics

ANN ARBOR—As a student at Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Rico Ozuna-Harrison discovered how he could have a future in medicine.

Every month, students from Cass Tech visit the University of Michigan to be mentored by medical students.

“It helped me to stay focused and by doing so, inspired me,” said Ozuna-Harrison, who is now a sophomore at U-M.

Established in 2012, the Doctors of Tomorrow program is focused on diversifying the future of health care by exposing underrepresented minority students to careers in medicine, as well as providing them with foundational skills to pursue a career in health sciences.

The University of Michigan's Doctors of Tomorrow program pairs Cass Tech students with U-M counterparts

Cass Tech students pair up with U-M counterparts

While program activities vary from day to day, each day is teeming with new educational opportunities. Over the course of the program, students learn CPR, automatic defibrillation, laparoscopic surgical skills, the basic elements of surgery and other clinical skills.

Jonathan Finks, a surgeon and associate professor at Michigan Medicine, decided to tackle the question of how health care can be more diverse. He founded the Doctors of Tomorrow program at U-M.The program takes place at Cass Tech, where more than 80% of students identify as African American.

“Programs like this give the students an opportunity to see that they’re in charge of their futures,” said Velma Snow, assistant principal at Cass Tech.

Velma Snow, assistant principal at Cass Tech High School in Detroit says that the Doctors of Tomorrow program lets children see that "they're in charge of their future."

Assistant Principal Snow

By pairing up with 100 medical students from U-M, 35 high school students are provided with an opportunity to attain skills for a future in health care.

“This program was born out of an observation that there weren’t a lot of people of color in the medical school amongst medical students or practicing physicians at the University of Michigan,” Finks said. “After doing some research, we realized that this was a national problem.”

Due to U-M’s geographic proximity to Detroit, Finks reached out to Cass Technical High School, a well-known magnet school in which eighth grade students must pass an entrance exam for admission. Once accepted into the school, students decide a direction of study in a specialized area and follow a specific course plan. They also must maintain a 2.5 grade point average to attend the school.

“These kids are willing to go the extra mile,” Finks said. “These are the ones who we felt if we were able to shepherd them along and provide them mentorship, guidance and hopefully some financial support, then we could get them to medical school to sort of start a pipeline that begins in high school and follows them all the way to college.”

The hands-on activities help students who are interested in medicine stay engaged in the field, while also giving them real-life clinical context, Finks said.

Once a month, Cass Tech students come to the University of Michigan to be mentored by med students and learn clinical and surgical skills

Learning clinical skills

A significant portion of the program involves work on a Capstone Project, which allows participants to collaborate with their peers and mentors, and investigate the effects socioeconomic status has on health and health-related matters.

At the end of each program, the student groups present their findings to an audience of family, friends and health care professionals. Past subjects have included youth violence, drug abuse, mental health awareness and the Flint water crisis.

“The Capstone Project helps them understand that even as a freshman in high school, they can be agents of change,” Finks said.

"These students are remarkable," says Gurjit Sandhu, PhD, Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of Michigan Medical School, of the Doctors of Tomorrow students at Cass Tech

“These students are remarkable.”

Gurjit Sandhu, assistant professor of surgery at Michigan Medicine, assists the students in designing posters for their presentations, called Photo Voice. After hearing about the program, she was inspired to come to U-M and work within the Department of Surgery.

The Doctors of Tomorrow program is not just beneficial to the high school students participating; it is equally as important to the medical school as a whole and the research that comes as a result of the program.

Residents at U-M have varying interests in topics that include education and outcomes research, and through this program, they are able to expand their knowledge and better understand their own respective fields.

“We nurture residents to become the best doctors in the future by having them think not just about patients today, but also about patients in the future,” Sandhu said. “Residents are really starting to take the lead in thinking about patient care as something that they’re in charge of while still in residency.”

Finks’ goal is to inspire other medical schools to adopt similar programs, and he hopes to do this in years to come.

“We need to establish these pipeline programs so we can take kids from seventh grade to ninth grade to college to medical school,” Finks said. “It’s incredibly important.”

Doctors of Tomorrow

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