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El Diario: Se necesita más apoyo para que haya más diversidad en la medicina

POR: JAIME NIETO

Se necesita más apoyo para que haya más diversidad en la medicina
El 31% de la población del estado de Nueva York son latinos y afroamericanos, pero solo representamos el 12% de los médicos. FOTO: ARCHIVO / SHUTTERSTOCK

Crecí en Chiquinquirá, Colombia, y cuando era chico, mi héroe era el médico del pueblo; el único médico para más de 40,000 residentes. Hacía todo, desde sacar dientes hasta controlar la presión sanguínea y traer bebés al mundo. Yo quería ser justo como él; ser médico y servir a las personas de mi comunidad.

Pero, mi sueño de convertirme en médico parecía ser una disparatada fantasía infantil.

A pesar de haberme graduado de la secundaria en Bogotá con notas altas, tuve que trabajar en las minas de esmeralda para mantenerme y ayudar a mi familia. 

A los 19, llegué a los Estados Unidos con una visa de estudiante. Sabía muy poco inglés y tuve que tomar trabajos eventuales para poder llegar a la universidad. Y mi sueño aún parecía muy lejano.

Sin embargo, rápidamente me di cuenta de que aquí había muchas oportunidades, especialmente en Nueva York, donde los programas habían sido diseñados para ayudar a un niño como yo a triunfar.

Entonces, me convertí en médico.  De hecho, en cirujano.  Y en el director de Neurocirugía del Hospital Presbyterian Queens de Nueva York.

Lo logré gracias a un programa fundado por el Estado de Nueva York que ayuda a los latinos, personas de color y otros estudiantes de minorías a entrar a las escuelas de medicina. Por más de 25 años, el Estado de Nueva York ha apoyado los programas de diversidad en medicina, puestos en práctica por Escuelas Médicas Asociadas sin Fines de Lucro de Nueva York (AMSNY, por sus siglas en inglés).  Han ayudado a muchas personas como yo a convertirse en médicos.

Y tanto las personas como las comunidades se benefician.  En la actualidad, el 80 por ciento de mis pacientes son latinos.  Muchos hablan poco inglés. Para ellos, es un gran alivio contar con un médico que entienda su cultura. Los estudios muestran que las personas de color tienen muchas más probabilidades de lograr mejores resultados médicos si su médico se ve como ellos y habla su idioma.

Lamentablemente, aún hay muchas personas que no reciben el cuidado que merecen. Y hay muchos estudiantes parecidos a mí que necesitan un poco de apoyo adicional para convertirse en médicos. Las estadísticas lo dicen todo: El 31% de la población del Estado son latinos y afroamericanos, pero solo representamos el 12% de los médicos en el Estado.

Si no hubiese tenido la oportunidad que ofrece AMSNY, hoy no sería médico. Más gente joven necesita la misma oportunidad. 

Nuestros oficiales electos en el Estado están tomando decisiones sobre el presupuesto del próximo año.  Deben asegurarse de incluir más apoyo a la diversidad en los programas de medicina.

-Jaime Nieto es el Jefe de Cirugía Neurológica en el Hospital Presbyterian Queens de Nueva York y ayudante de Cátedra de Clínica Medica de cirugía neurológica en Weill Cornell Medicine.

Buffalo News: Another Voice: New York Medical Schools Benefit From Diversity

By Dr. Jonathan Daniels

Twenty-five years ago I got the opportunity of a lifetime: a chance to go to medical school and become a doctor. I have been fortunate enough to serve the Buffalo community I grew up in ever since.

Like many young African-American men back then, I lacked the resources, the guidance and the preparation it took to get into medical school.

Today there are as few African-American men in medical schools across the country as there were 25 – and even 50 – years ago. We need to do more to help more young black men and women fulfill that dream.

We also need more African-American doctors because there is a significant gap between the numbers of African-American patients and African-American physicians. We know from years of research that patients are healthier when they have doctors who look like them and are from similar backgrounds.

I joined the United States Army Reserve 365th Evacuation Hospital as a combat medic and served proudly during Operation Desert Storm. After my services, I returned to Buffalo to complete my undergraduate degree.

Today, I know there are many nontraditional paths – like mine – to medical school. I also know that too many students continue to be discouraged from pursuing careers in medicine for various reasons.

Despite advice to the contrary, I applied to medical school. As a Buffalo native, the medical school at UB, now known as the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, was an obvious choice.

My application was wait-listed. And that’s when the real opportunity came.

In 1991, the Associated Medical Schools of New York, a nonprofit that works with all the medical schools in the state, launched a post-baccalaureate program at UB. The program, which has been funded by New York State for almost two decades, guarantees medical school admission to everyone who successfully completes the program. The goal is to diversify the physician workforce.

New York State needs to invest more in programs like the AMSNY post-bac program and other programs that create a pipeline to medical school for more young African-Americans, Latino and Latina students and others underrepresented in medicine.

Dr. Jonathan Daniels is a pediatrician at Main Pediatrics and associate director of admissions, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.

USA Today: After decades of effort, African-American enrollment in medical school still lags

, USA TODAY NETWORK, Published 11:11 a.m. ET Feb. 28, 2019 

 

 

These are the 10 black men in University of Cincinnati College of Medicine’s first year class at their “White Coat Ceremony,” (Photo: Colleen Kelley/University of Cincinnati)

 

 

WASHINGTON – Gabriel Felix is on track to graduate from Howard University’s medical school in May.

The 27-year-old from Rockland County, N.Y., has beaten the odds to make it this far, and knows he faces challenges going forward.

He and other black medical school students have grown used to dealing with doctors’ doubts about their abilities, and other slights: being confused with hospital support staff, or being advised to pick a nickname because their actual names would be too difficult to pronounce.

“We’re still on a steady hill toward progress,” says Felix, president of the Student National Medical Association, which represents medical students of color. But “there’s still a lot more work to do.”

After decades of effort to increase the ranks of African-American doctors, blacks remain an underrepresented minority in the nation’s medical schools.

USA TODAY examined medical school enrollment after the wide coverage of the racially controversial photo that appeared in the 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook entry of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. The picture showed one person in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe.

The proportion of medical students who identified as African-American or black rose from 5.6 percent in 1980 to 7.7 percent in 2016, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. That’s a substantial increase but still short of the 13.2 percent in the general population.

The disparity matters, physicians, students and others say, because doctors of color can help the African-American community overcome a historical mistrust of the medical system – a factor in poorer health outcomes for black Americans.

“It’s been a persistent, stubborn racial disparity in the medical workforce,” says Dr. Vanessa Gamble, a professor at George Washington University. “Medical schools have tried, but it also has to do with societal issues about what happens to a lot of kids in our country these days.”

Those who have studied the disparity blame much of it on socioeconomic conditions, themselves the legacy of systemic racism. African Americans lag other Americans in household income and educational opportunity, among other indicators.

Medical schools and professional organizations have tried to boost enrollment and graduation rates by considering applicants’ socioeconomic backgrounds when reviewing grades and test scores, connecting doctors of color with elementary and middle schools and awarding more scholarship money.

They’ve achieved some success: The number of medical students who identified as African-American or black grew from 3,722 in 1980 to 6,758 in 2016, an 82 percent increase.

Individual schools have outperformed their peers.

Eastern Virginia Medical School has increased the enrollment of students of color since then. In 1984, 5 percent of M.D. students identified as black, the only category then available. In the school’s most recent class, 12.4 percent identified as African, African-American, Afro-Caribbean or black.

But further progress toward a more representative student body nationwide remains elusive. That’s due largely to the high cost of medical school – student loans average $160,000 and can take decades to pay off – and the attraction of other professional options available to the strongest minority students that cost less and require fewer years of training.

The benefits of greater enrollment could be considerable: Studies show that having more black doctors would likely improve black health in the United States. Many African-Americans remain mistrustful of the health care system, with some historic justification, and so are less likely than others to seek preventative or other care.

Gamble knows the phenomenon as well as anyone. She chaired a committee that investigated the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, the notorious experiment conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service from 1932 to 1972. Researchers withheld treatment from a group of black men with syphilis to study the progress of the disease, jeopardizing their health and that of their sexual partners.

Building pipelines to medical school  

Universities are working to boost minority enrollment and increase the likelihood that students will stay in school and pass the exams required to graduate and get licensed to practice.

Dr. Thomas Madejski is president of the Medical Society of the State of New York.  (Photo: Medical Society of the State of New York)

Dr. Thomas Madejski, president of the Medical Society of the State of New York, says efforts such as the American Medical Association’s Doctors Back to School program, in which physicians of color visit grade schools, help encourage minority students consider careers in medicine.

But he cautions that such programs don’t address all of the socioeconomic hurdles confronting African Americans.

“I think we may have to relook at some of the factors that may still be barriers and create some new initiatives to overcome those and get the citizens of the U.S. to have the physician workforce that they want and need,” Madejski says.

His group and others are pushing for tuition relief and expansion of scholarship programs for underrepresented groups.

Gabriel Felix is a fourth year student at Howard University’s medical school and president of the Student National Medical Association.  (Photo: Courtesy of Gabriel Felix)

Felix, the Howard student, calls for more outreach by physicians of color, particularly in African American communities.

Felix’s parents are from Haiti, where black doctors are a common sight. They could easily envision the career for their son. African-American parents, however, might not encourage their children as much, Felix says.  

Dr. Mia Mallory is associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion at the University of Cincinnati medical school.

“Patients do better when they are taken care of by people who look like them,” she says. “So we’re trying to grow talented physicians that look like them and are more likely to go back into the community they came from.”

Dr. Mia Mallory is associate dean in the office of diversity and inclusion and an associate professor in pediatrics at University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. (Photo: University of Cincinnati College of Medicine)

Some of what’s being done:

New York. About a third of the state’s population is black and/or Latino, but only 12 percent of doctors in practice are. The decision of New York University’s decision to offer free tuition to medical students who maintain a certain grade point average has more than doubled the number of applicants who identify as a member of a group that’s underrepresented in medicine.

Associated Medical Schools of New York, which represents the state’s 16 public and private medical schools, says several programs give college students academic help, mentoring or other aid, and guarantee medical school acceptance upon completion.

About 500 practicing physicians from underrepresented groups graduated from one of these programs at University at Buffalo.

These were “kids who otherwise never would have gotten into medical school,” says Jo Wiederhorn, president of Associated Medical Schools of New York.

The share of black and Latino students at medical school rose from 13.5 percent in the 2010-11 school year to 15.4 percent for the past school year, Wiederhorn said.

Maryland. University of Maryland, Baltimore County, produces more African-Americans who go on to earn dual M.D./Ph.D. degrees than any college in the country.

Its Meyerhoff Scholars program selects promising high school students for a rigorous undergraduate program that connects them with research opportunities, conferences, paid internships, and study-abroad experiences. The program is open to all people, but nearly 70 percent of the scholars are black.

The university also sends students in its Sherman Scholars program to teach math and science in disadvantaged elementary schools in the Baltimore area. That helps build an early pipeline to the university and its science and math programs.

UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski III says, “We’re going to find some prejudice wherever we go.” But he prefers to look for solutions that keep students of color in math and science, which increases their chances of medical school acceptance.

University of Cincinnati. The College of Medicine welcomed the largest group of African-American men in its history last year at 10 – an important milestone, given the gender gap within the few black doctors.          

Mallory says the school looks at students’ applications “holistically,” considering “what it took for them to get where they are.” That includes whether they had to work while they were in college and whether they had access to tutors.

The school’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion hired Dr. Swati Pandya, a physician and learning specialist, to teach medical school students how to take standardized tests and improve study habits.

All of the school’s third-year students last year passed the first of their medical licensing exams, achieving the highest average in the school’s and the highest of any medical school in the state.

Why so few?

Dr. Georges Benjamin executive director of the American Public Health Association, cites the criminal justice system’s targeting of young black men and the pull of other professions for others.

“The cream of the crop has a broader portfolio of things they can do,”  Benjamin says. “They can go into other disciplines, including MBA and law programs.”

Dr. Garth Graham is a cardiologist by training, but in a nearly 20-year career, he has become something akin to a doctor of disparities.

A former assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health, he’s Aetna’s vice president of community health and president of the Aetna Foundation.

He also chairs the Harvard Medical School Diversity Fund, which supports science, technology, engineering and math education and other support for minority students and faculty members in kindergarten through grade 12.

The National Bureau of Economic Research studied African-American men’s use of preventive health services when they had black and non-black doctors. The bureau reported last year that black doctors could reduce black men’s deaths from heart disease by 16 deaths per 100,000 every year. That would reduce the gap between black and white men by 19 percent.

Black doctors “bring a cultural understanding because of their background in their communities,” Graham says. “Relatability is important in patient-doctor relationships.”

Contributing: Shari Rudavsky, The Indianapolis Star

 

NBC News: Academic Programs Aim to Close Diversity Gap in Medicine

By Shamard Charles, M.D.

Currently, only 10.3 percent of American med school grads are black or Latino, but efforts like the Northwestern Medicine Scholars Program are trying to fix that.

 

Braxton Jenkins, 19, with Dr. Clyde Yancy, vice dean for diversity and inclusion at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. Jenkins is a graduate of the Northwestern Medicine Scholars Program.Courtesy of Braxton Jenkins and Dr. Clyde Yancy

 

 

 

 

Blacks and Latinos make up more than 30 percent of the U.S. population, but only 10.3 percent of medical school graduates, a number that hasn’t changed much in 50 years. It’s a stark reminder that even though the U.S. population is becoming more diverse, medicine isn’t.

Now, universities and community organizations around the country are working together to reverse this trend.

One effort is the Northwestern Medicine Scholars Program at Westinghouse College Prep, a public high school in Chicago. Founded in 2011 by Dr. Erica Marsh, formerly at Northwestern and now an OB-GYN at the University of Michigan, the partnership offers Westinghouse students a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of doctors and scientists by providing mentoring with physicians and researchers, intensive summer and test prep courses, and college entrance support. The only requirements are a 3.2 GPA and a genuine desire to pursue math or science studies.

The Northwestern scholars program is run by Dr. Clyde Yancy, vice dean for diversity and inclusion at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and chief of cardiology at the Northwestern Memorial Hospital, in Chicago.

“These young people are from families that have very limited economic means, yet we are extracting and providing them with a different kind of experience that says, ‘No, you can do this,’ ” Yancy told NBC News.

And the students seem to be heeding the message.

Sixty students have been Northwestern Medicine scholars, all chosen in ninth grade. So far, all of the scholars have graduated from high school and nearly 100 percent have gone on to college — one student pursued an associate’s degree in nursing and now works at Northwestern Medical Hospital — with all the college-bound students receiving significant scholarship assistance, Yancy said. Among the colleges attended by the program’s graduates are the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.

Sixty percent of the scholars pursue science, technology, engineering or math majors in college; are in premed tracks; or are in health care-related fields, such as nursing, said Janet Rocha, an assistant professor of medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine.

Most of the scholars chosen are from struggling families with no tradition of higher education, Yancy said. “What is most remarkable is that 60 percent of the students receive school lunch assistance — an index of socioeconomic stress — and 80 percent are from college-naïve families,” said Yancy.

“We have effectively developed a pipeline program that attracts a diverse group,” he continued. “If only one student makes it through high school, attends college, graduates, seeks a professional degree and then returns home to serve as a role model, then our program has been successful.”

Other academic organizations, like the Associated Medical Schools of New York, also run diversity programs aimed at increasing the number of minority students in medical school. One way is to lower financial barriers — the average debt for a medical school graduate is approaching $200,000, the group says, putting medical school out of reach for many minorities.

On Wednesday, the New York group, which represents all 16 public and private medical schools in the state, urged the state Legislature to increase funding for the group’s Diversity in Medicine scholarship program to $1 million, to cover one year of medical school tuition for 20 students. Scholarship winners must agree to work in underserved areas of the state after completing their education.

“We are specifically targeting black and Latino kids to increase ethnic diversity in medical schools,” Jaime Williams, a spokeswoman for the organization, told NBC News on Friday.

This year, the inaugural class of Northwestern scholars will graduate from college. Of the six students in the class, four are pursuing graduate degrees — two are going to medical school and the others are seeking master’s degrees in public health and health administration, Yancy said.

Braxton Jenkins, 19, a student at Valparaiso University in Indiana, says the scholars program changed his life.

“It was the best part of high school. They provided me with a network and an environment that encourages students to enter STEM fields,” said Jenkins, referring to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. “It just really makes a difference. I’m in college and those memories motivate me and I cannot be more grateful for them.”

Jenkins, who grew up on the west side of Chicago, says the program is successful because it provides unique experiences like the opportunity to participate in scientific research, along with discussions on implicit bias and microaggression and its effect on people.

“We had candid discussions about what it would be like being a person of color in college,” said Jenkins, who is black. “That really prepares you for anything. Currently, I want to study solar panels and energy, but I keep medicine in the back of my mind.”

Yancy said he hopes that programs like Northwestern’s become a national model for scholastic excellence for underrepresented populations, especially in light of a 2016 Association of American Medical Colleges report that showed a marked decrease in the number of African-American medical students, particularly black men, across the country from 1978 to 2014.

From 1978 to 2015, 78.6 percent of graduates of U.S. medical schools were white or Asian, the report said. Blacks, American Indians and Hispanics together made up the remaining 21.4 percent.

Black doctors are better equipped to advocate for black patients because of their shared cultural experiences, said Dr. Dale Okorodudu, president and founder of DiverseMedicine, a web-based mentoring organization.

    Braxton Jenkins, 19, at his construction internship with F.H. Paschen.

“It was the best part of high school,” Jenkins said of his time as a Northwestern Medicine scholar.Courtesy of Braxton Jenkins

“America needs more black doctors so they can have a choice, but also to have more access to providers who are culturally connected to them — who understand their lives and their challenges as much as their clinical needs,” said Okorodudu, who is also founder ofBlack Men in White Coats, which hosted its first youth summit a little more than a week ago in Dallas.

“And young people need to see doctors too,” he added. “If you have a vision of what you want to be in life it keeps you on track.”

Racial disparities exist throughout medicine. One of the most severe is the racial disparity in U.S. maternal mortality rates for black women. Each year in the United States, about 700 women die as a result of pregnancy or delivery issues, while 50,000 experience severe complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But black women are three to four times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related causes nationwide; in New York City, they are 12 times more likely to die.

“Disparities can be narrowed with more cultural competency — that is, being open, understanding and willing to explain,” Dr. Otis Brawley, professor of oncology and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University, said in an interview.

“It’s not that the drugs don’t work in blacks or simply that we don’t have enough blacks in clinical research, it’s that black people often don’t get the drugs or adequate treatment to overcome disparities.”

Experts believe that adding more black scientists and doctors to the pipeline is one way to narrow racial disparities in medicine. Studies have shown not only that black professionals return to their communities to help later in their careers more often than white professionals do, but also that black patients are far more likely to agree to certain preventive health tests if they discussed them with a black doctor.

“We live in a world that is changing,” said Yancy. “Within one to two decades there will no longer be a majority population. If we are to serve the entirety of the U.S. population, we need to evolve a workforce that resembles the population and enables best care for everyone.”

“The task is daunting, but the opportunities are there when all the very best thoughts and ideas are considered, from wherever or whomever they originate.”

 

AMSNY Urges NYS Legislature to Expand ‘Diversity in Medicine’ Programs, Including New Program to Remove Barriers for Aspiring Black and Latino Doctors

Citing a lack of diverse doctors in New York, AMSNY also calls for  $1 million investment in highly-needed scholarship program

NEW YORK (February 20, 2019) – The Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY) is urging the New York State Legislature to add $556,000 to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $1.244 million budget for AMSNY’s Diversity in Medicine programs – including funding for a new program that will help underrepresented in medicine students overcome the barriers presented by the medical school application process.  AMSNY is also calling on the legislature to provide $1 million for the Diversity in Medicine Scholarship program, which would cover the cost of medical school tuition for 20 students.

“Patients achieve better health outcomes when they have a doctor who speaks the same language, understands their culture and has had similar life experiences,” said Jo Wiederhorn, President and CEO of AMSNY, a non-profit organization representing the 16 medical schools across the state.  A recent study showed that black males – who have the lowest life expectancy of any ethnic group in the United States – were much more likely to agree to necessary tests and screenings if their doctors were black.  Many other studies have come to similar conclusions.

For the past 25 years, AMSNY has run successful diversity in medicine pipeline programs across New York State for students in high school through post-baccalaureate studies. Their programs provide various supports – from mentoring to advising, to academic enrichment, clinical and research skills development, financial support and referral and more – to enable ethnically diverse students to gain acceptance to medical school. Some 94% of students who completed their master’s program and 93% of those who entered the post-baccalaureate program went on to medical school.

“Oftentimes, students from underserved communities would like to become physicians and return to their communities to practice.  However, there are many obstacles which can stand in the way of these students fulfilling their dreams.  We’re calling on the state to increase their investment to help more students overcome these barriers,” continued Ms. Wiederhorn.   Underrepresented minorities, including Blacks/African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos, make up approximately 31.1% of New York’s population but only 12.1% of the state’s physician workforce.

In addition to increased investment for AMSNY’s long-standing and successful diversity pipeline programs, AMSNY is asking the state legislature to fund a new Enhanced Medical College Application Test (MCAT) Prep Program. The new program will expand the pipeline of diverse doctors by helping underrepresented students prep for the MCAT test as well as  address other core application elements such as interview preparation, assistance with essay writing, and referrals to additional free programs that help students apply to medical schools.

About 186,450 people took the MCAT test between 2015-2017. Of those, only 11% were Hispanic and 10% were black.  While the mean score for white and Asian students was 502, the mean score dropped to 495 for Hispanic students and 493 for black students.

AMSNY is also calling on the legislature to provide $1 million in funding for the Diversity in Medicine Scholarship Program.  Over the past two years, thanks to the legislature, and specifically Assembly members Blake and People-Stokes, 11 students have benefitted from this program, which covers the cost of medical school tuition. This cost is a significant barrier for many underrepresented in medicine students – the average debt for a medical school graduate is approaching $200,000, making medical school out of reach for too many.  The increased funding would enable AMSNY to cover the tuition for 20 students a year.

AMSNY’s state funding for diversity programs has dropped precipitously in the last decade. Ten years ago, the State Department of Health gave AMSNY $1.96 million for diversity programing for a total of 526 students. In the current budget proposal, AMSNY would receive just $1.244 million, which would cover about 430 students. AMSNY is requesting a budget increase to bring funding to $2 million.

“Our programs work.  We have enabled students to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds and enter medical school,” Wiederhorn said. “We can help diverse students achieve their dreams and help get New Yorkers healthier by expanding diversity pipeline programs.”

———

Contact: Jaime Williams 347-361-7183    jaime@anatgerstein.com

AMSNY CEO Testifies at NYC Council Committee on Higher Ed Hearing About CUNY Diversity in Medicine Pipeline Programs

Testimony of:

Jo Wiederhorn, President & CEO Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY) Oversight Hearing – Pursuing a Career in Health Care at the City University of New York  Committee on Higher Education New York City Council January 17, 2019 10:00 am 250 Broadway, 14th Floor Committee Room, New York, NY Good morning, Chairwoman Barron and other distinguished members of the committee. Thank you for this opportunity to testify on pursuing health careers at the City University of New York. My name is Jo Wiederhorn, President & CEO of the Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY), the consortium of the sixteen public and private medical schools in New York State, eight of which are located within New York City’s five boroughs. AMSNY works in partnership with its members to promote high-quality and cost-efficient health care by ensuring that New York State’s medical schools provide outstanding medical education, patient care and biomedical research. AMSNY strongly believes in the importance of a multifaceted strategy to meet the growing demand for primary care and specialty physicians, while simultaneously tackling the current need to decrease access issues in underserved areas. As such, through our Diversity in Medicine Program AMSNY has overseen diversity programs designed to increase the number of underrepresented students going into medicine and biomedical sciences since 1985. CUNY School of Medicine (CUNY), formerly Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, is one of our member institutions and we have been supporting programs at both CUNY and the City College of New York (CCNY) for close to 20 years.

AMSNY’s Diversity in Medicine Program

According to the SUNY Albany Center for Health Workforce Studies, while African American/Blacks and Latino/Hispanics make up 31% of the New York State population, they accounted for approximately 12% of the State’s physician workforce between 2011-2015. Increasing racial and ethnic diversity among health professionals is important because evidence indicates that diversity is associated with improved access to care for racial and ethnic minority patients, greater patient choice and satisfaction as well as better educational experiences for health professions students. As such, increasing the number of physicians from communities underrepresented in medicine (URIM) practicing in the state is vital to the health of New Yorkers. Since 1985, AMSNY has supported an array of pipeline programs across the state with the intent of expanding the pool of students choosing careers in health and medicine. The goal of these programs is to provide academic enrichment and support to students from educationally and/or economically underserved backgrounds. These programs provide an opportunity that a majority of participants would not have had due to cultural and financial barriers. AMSNY oversees six core programs as part of its Diversity in Medicine grant that ultimately leads students into medical school, including a post-baccalaureate program at the Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo (UB); and three master’s degree post-baccalaureate programs at SUNY Upstate Medical University, Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, and New York Medical College. These programs are unique in that students must first apply to a New York State medical school and be interviewed by the school’s admissions committee. If the admissions committee believes the student would be a good addition to the school, they will recommend him/her to one of the four post-bac programs. If, upon completion of the post-baccalaureate program, the student meets the program and the referring school’s requirements, he/she will automatically be accepted into the referring medical school. As you will see in the attachment, 93% of students that participate in AMSNY’s UB post- baccalaureate program enter medical school, and 85% graduate. In our master’s degree post- baccalaureate programs, 94% of the students enter medical school. The other core programs provide support for an academic learning center at CUNY School of Medicine – a seven-year BS/MD program that students enter directly from high school; and a research program at CCNY that links junior and senior undergraduate students with NIH-funded researchers to prepare them for careers in medical school and/or the basic sciences.

CUNY School of Medicine Academic Learning Center

AMSNY supports the CUNY School of Medicine Learning Resource Center (LRC) which provides academic support to students who enter the seven-year school directly from high school and graduate with a BS/MD degree. Since its inception, the LRC has provided thousands of counseling and workshop hours to CUNY students. The LRC provides educational and academic support services and resources to all of the CUNY School of Medicine students, whether they are in the “undergraduate” (first three years leading to a BS degree) or “graduate” (last 4 years leading to an MD degree) portion of the school. Some of the key services offered through the LRC include: academic counseling and coaching through a pre-matriculation workshop which helps incoming freshmen transition to an accelerated college program, tutoring which is often provided in a peer-to-peer setting, as well as problem-based learning skills seminars, and early academic evaluation and intervention of “at-risk” students through standardized learning assessments. The LRC also provides seminars for the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) and mini-boards. Funding through the AMSNY helps the LRC meet the increasing needs and demands for academic and clinical support services from our undergraduate and medical students, especially students whose pre- college education has not sufficiently prepared them for the rigors of an accelerated college program, and subsequent medical curriculum. CUNY School of Medicine is also unique in that the students come from New York State, most are from racial and ethnic backgrounds which are underrepresented in medicine, and the school focuses on preparing students for careers in primary care. AMSNY and the LRC help prepare the next generation of physicians from New York to care for the population of New York City.  

City College of New York Pathways to Careers in Medicine and Research Program

The Pathways to Careers in Medicine and Research Program at CCNY provides stipend support to undergraduate science majors who are conducting research in laboratories within the Division of Science or in outside research facilities. In the past we have also been able to provide a small stipend to their mentors. Students engaged in research must spend a minimum of ten hours per week in the laboratory. Traditionally, most of the students must work in order to pay for their educational expenses at the sacrifice of research experience. The stipend support makes it possible for students to participate in research and still earn money, giving them the option not to work. The mentor support helps to cover research laboratory expenses. The purpose of the Pathways to Careers in Medicine and Research Program is to increase the likelihood that students who express an interest in a career in medicine or research are successful in their pursuit. The research component of the program helps to define their interests and set them apart from other graduate and medical school applicants. The students in the AMSNY/DOH Pathways to Careers in Medicine and Research Program present posters of their projects at scientific and professional conferences where they make connections with graduate and professional schools and programs, government agencies and research institutions. Presenting also assists students with interviewing skills, scientific fluency and strengthens all aspects of their graduate school applications. AMSNY has been following Pathways students as they move on from CCNY and have found that many of the students do pursue careers in the health sciences. From 2008 to 2018, 26 students have gone on to medical school and/or an MD/PhD program, 35 students have sought careers in the biomedical sciences, including PhD and master’s degree programs, working in research labs, as well as teaching, and 10 students have gone on to other health careers such as optometry and as physician assistants. In the 2017-2018 academic year, 13 students participated in the program each semester (At its height, AMSNY supported 30 students and mentors per semester). Of those students, the mean GPA was 3.51 with the students majoring in Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry and English/Pre-Medical. All of the students presented scientific posters at the City College Academy for Professional Preparation (CCAPP) and three students presented at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS). One student received a Fulbright Fellowship Award and another student was awarded an American Chemical Society Award. In closing, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to testify this morning. As you can see, AMSNY has been overseeing two very successful programs at CUNY—both of which are for underrepresented students who are interested in pursuing careers in the health professions. To further support these students and to aid them in their education we would like to expand our scholarship program to students who are in their final four years of CUNY School of Medicine and to increase the stipend for and number of students who participate in our Careers in Medicine and Research Program at CCNY. The expansion of these programs can be designed to include an obligation to work in New York City once the individual has completed his/her education.

New York State Research Institutions Celebrate Stem Cell Awareness Day on 10/10/2018

(New York, NY) – Wednesday, October 10, 2018 is Stem Cell Awareness Day, and research institutions across New York are joining the Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY) to spread the news that groundbreaking stem cell research is happening across the state. This year also marks 20 years since scientists first discovered how to derive stem cells, leading to a medical revolution.

“Unfortunately at least once in their lives most people are faced with someone close to them who  is battling a disease such as cancer, diabetes, HIV, Alzheimer’s or heart disease. Luckily, scientists are making strides in advancing breakthrough discoveries in pursuit of new treatments—thanks to stem cells,” said Jo Wiederhorn, President of AMSNY. “Many of these incredible advancements have been made by researchers right here in New York, thanks to the New York State Stem Cell Science Program.”

Stem cells open up new avenues for biomedical researchers because of their unique ability to develop into many different types of cells, making it possible to study many disease types, and to repair and replace any damaged body tissue. They allow researchers to model diseases in labs so they can study their progression, develop personalized treatments, and test existing drugs for new uses. And, stem cells can replicate indefinitely, making them abundant.

As part of AMSNY’s efforts to raise awareness, the organization is working with research institutions to promote stem cell research findings via social media using #StemCellAwarenessDay, and releasing a series of short videos that explain stem cell research.

It’s important to note that while stem cells represent the next frontier of medical breakthroughs, federal funding for stem cell science is limited. That’s why New York State created the Stem Cell Science program (NYSTEM) in 2007 to fund stem cell research. It has been tremendously successful, leading to more than $152 million in additional support from other sources, and creating over 750 jobs across the state, in addition to advances in healthcare.

NYSTEM-funded research happening in New York State includes:

  • Research to treat age-related macular degeneration (blindness) with adult retinal stem cell transplants.
  • Studying schizophrenia using cerebral organoids, in which stem cells are grown into “mini-brains” that resemble the developing human brain in its earliest stages.
  • Using stem cell models of brain tumors, colon cancer, and more to screen existing drugs for effectiveness in fighting these illnesses.
  • Discovering a new class of stem cells that have properties allowing them to develop into various types of heart cells, to home in on the site of an injury and repair it.
  • Exploring novel treatments for devastating inherited diseases affecting a patient’s enzymes, including Krabbe, Gaucher and Tay-Sachs diseases.

Learn more about researchers supported by NYSTEM here.

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The Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY) is the consortium of the 16 public and private medical schools throughout New York State. AMSNY’s mission is to be the voice of medical education in New York State, advancing biomedical research, diversity in medical school and the physician workforce, and high quality, cost-efficient patient care. The combined economic impact of New York’s medical schools economic is more than $85.6 billion, meaning that $1 in every $13 in New York State’s economy is related to AMSNY medical schools and their primary hospital affiliates. For more information about AMSNY, please visit: www.amsny.org

Announcing AMSNY Diversity in Medicine Scholarship Recipients

AMSNY is proud to announce our 10 scholarship recipients for 2018-2019!
The AMSNY Diversity in Medicine Scholarship has two goals: decrease medical students’ debt load and provide physicians for medically underserved areas in NYS, as students commit to two years of service in a designated underserved area in New York State.

The scholarship, which is pegged to the cost of SUNY medical school tuition is available to those students who have completed an AMSNY post-baccalaureate program and who agree to work in an underserved area in NYS upon completion of their medical education.

To learn more about the AMSNY Diversity in Medicine Scholarship Program visit Diversity in Medicine Scholarship .

Here are our scholarship recipients for 2018/19:

FIRST YEAR SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENT

NATASHA BORRERO

Undergrad: Yale University, BA (History of Science/History of Medicine), ’07
Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences (AMSNY), ’16
Medical School: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences, MD, ’20

Natasha was born and raised in the Bronx, NY and witnessed “health disparities” long before she was old enough to understand the term. During a leave of absence in her undergraduate career, Natasha served with AmeriCorps at a federally qualified health center in the South Bronx. That experience inspired her to return to the health center after graduation to implement various quality improvement projects with the goal to help make the Bronx a healthier place. Natasha subsequently pursued a Master’s in Public Health from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and worked diligently to get into medical school through the AMSNY Post-Baccalaureate Program. As a physician, she wants to serve disadvantaged and Latino populations within an urban setting. Natasha plans to pursue a residency in primary care and to work with underserved communities improving preventative care.

SECOND YEAR SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS

KAROLE COLLIER

Undergrad: Barnard College of Columbia University, BA (Africana Studies), ’15
Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences (AMSNY), ’16
Medical School: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences, MD, ’21

Karole was raised by her biological parents who were also foster parents to a number of children and believes that her diverse upbringing exposed her to the power of inclusion and the need for care. When she was in college, Karole’s father experienced long hospitalization after receiving an incorrect hernia repair which exposed Karole to the pitfalls in the healthcare system and which led to her interest in health disparities. Karole feels strongly that all individuals should receive quality treatment regardless of race, gender, disability, neighborhood or history of trauma. Karole intends to work in a publicly funded hospital after completing her training and return to serve the disenfranchised communities that sparked her interest.


MELISSA ESPERT

Undergrad: Middlebury College, BA (Spanish), ’09
Masters: Drexel University, MS, ’11
Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences (AMSNY), ’14
Medical School: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MD,’19

Melissa was born in Brooklyn, New York, and was exposed to medicine through her pursuit of a career in forensics and law enforcement. Melissa took an undergraduate psychology course and then interned at the Medical Examiner’s Office of New York. While working there, she was mentored by the Chief of Staff and Director of Forensic Investigations and learned more about healthcare delivery which changed her path to medical school. As a graduate student, Melissa participated in research related to cardiovascular disease in Latina women of the Bronx and developed a passion for healthcare activism, social justice, and mentorship. Melissa is currently a fourth-year medical student and plans to do her residency in general surgery. She is looking forward to practicing as a female surgeon of color in Brooklyn.


BRADLEY FRATE

Undergrad: State University of New York at Oswego, BS (Biology), ’13
Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences (AMSNY), ’15
Medical School: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences, MD, ’19

Bradley, a fourth-year student at Jacobs School of Medicine at the University at Buffalo, gained interested in becoming a physician when he was 10 years old, when a physician took the time to comfort him after delivering the news of his father’s tumor. With his sights on medical school, Bradley attended SUNY Oswego, where the director of the College Science Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) mentored him through the medical school application process. While in medical school, Bradley has volunteered extensively at the medical school’s drop-in clinic where free, routine healthcare and preventive services are provided to underserved and uninsured Buffalo residents, as well as planning and running community events. He is also heavily involved in the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) and their mentoring program for minority students called RX for Success.These experiences have solidified Bradley’s interest and commitment to working as a physician in an underserved area.


CATHERINA LUBIN

Undergrad: Queens College, BS (Psychology), ’13
Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences (AMSNY), ’17
Medical School: State University of New York, Downstate College of Medicine, MD, ’21

Catherina was born in New York to Haitian immigrant parents who experienced financial hardships. Growing up, Catherina found a community through her church and was active in their community service activities, including distributing food at homeless shelters and playing the violin at a local senior center. Catherina also had hands-on experience with medicine while helping her mother take care of her grandmother who suffered from a number of chronic illnesses as well as a brain aneurism. Monitoring her grandmother’s medications and serving as a caregiver at such an early age sparked Catherina’s interest in becoming a physician, a goal which she has pursued to SUNY Downstate where she is a second-year student this fall. Catherina has worked as a medical scribe for an urgent care facility, giving her a firsthand look at the health disparities in New York. She looks forward to serving a disadvantaged community here when she is finished with her training.


ZACHARIA MOHAMED

Undergrad: Le Moyne College, BS (Biology), ’16
Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences (AMSNY), ’17
Medical School: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MD, ’21

Zacharia was born in war-torn Somalia but was raised in a refugee camp in Kenya by his older sister for 12 years before gaining asylum in the United States. When Zacharia and his sister relocated to Syracuse, New York, he was unable to read, write, or speak English in addition to many other struggles as an immigrant. His passion for medicine grew from watching his older sister lose her eyesight and battle Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder stemming from her experiences in Somalia. After spending some years learning English, Zacharia was a translator for his sister and her healthcare staff which intensified his passion for medicine and for helping individuals in need. Zacharia is back in Syracuse for medical school in his second year at SUNY Upstate Medical University and looks forward to practicing in underserved communities, providing both medical care and empathy gained through his own personal experiences.


AKYA MYRIE

Undergrad: Stony Brook University, BS (Health Science) ’16
Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences (AMSNY), ’17
Medical School: State University of New York, Downstate College of Medicine, MD, ’21

Akya grew up in Brooklyn, New York, after her mother immigrated from Jamaica to secure better services for her son who is profoundly mentally disabled. Akya learned that while medical care was better in the United States, her mother and brother still struggled to access quality medicine and culturally competent care. This inequity led Akya to pursue a career in medicine but also drove her to serve vulnerable communities and individuals who are chronically underserved. After completing her post-bac degree at the AMSNY University at Buffalo program, Akya is in Brooklyn starting her second year of medical school this fall. Akya describes a commitment to serve as an honor, rather than a requirement, and she is excited to work with an underserved community as a gastroenterologist after residency.


DIANA PEREZ

Undergrad: University of Connecticut, BS (Biological Science), ’14
Post-Bac: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MS (Medical Training), ’17
Medical School: Albert Einstein College of Medicine, MD, ’21

Before moving to the Bronx at age 11, Diana lived in the Dominican Republic and initially struggled to learn English when she came to New York. Through her parents’ urging, after graduating from her eighth grade English as a Second Language (ESL) program, she transitioned into a high school without an ESL program and had to quickly pick up the English language. While in high school, she participated in a summer internship at St. Vincent Medical Center’s Emergency Department. It was through this program that she gained a deeper understanding of how important it is for physicians to provide quality care and to help patients make better health choices. After college, Diana worked as a Perinatal Health Coordinator at the Institute for Family Health providing health education and guidance to low-income pregnant women. Diana says that growing up in the Bronx, one of the poorest counties in the country, leads her to view advocacy and justice as an obligation for healthcare professionals. Diana is starting her second year at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and looks forward to providing proactive healthcare to underserved areas.


SEBASTIAN PLACIDE

Undergrad: Cornell University, BA (Sociology), ’12
Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences (AMSNY), ’16
Medical School: Albert Einstein College of Medicine, MD, ’20

Sebastian grew up in a single-parent home in Brooklyn, New York, where his mother continually sacrificed for his well-being and led him to develop a passion of putting others first at a young age. Throughout high school, he helped translate for his grandmother when she saw the doctor since her physician was not fluent in Haitian-Creole. Even with the language barrier, Sebastian recalls that the physician served as an advocate, healer, and teacher for his grandmother which led him to also pursue a career as a doctor. Sebastian looks forward to serving a medically underserved community because he grew up in one himself and feels it is his duty to return the service. Sebastian is starting his third year at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and has a long-term goal of establishing a health care center in an underserved area to offer holistic and culturally appropriate care.


NEFERTITI TYEHEMBA

Undergrad: Barnard College of Columbia University, BA (Anthropology), ’07
Post-Bac: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MS (Medical Training), ’16
Medical School: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MD, ’20

Nefertiti was raised in Harlem, New York, as the youngest of six siblings. At a young age, her family and many personal mentors in her community instilled strong values of education, hard work and perseverance, and a deep commitment to community empowerment. Her mother has been a nurse midwife in Harlem for over 30 years, which originally attracted Nefertiti to community- based healthcare. She is interested in medicine because it provides an opportunity for her to advocate for equity in social and health services that under- served communities lack. Nefertiti is passionate about solving systematic healthcare disparities by providing resources for access to mental health services in conjunction with physical health care. She is equally supportive of promoting primary care prevention, as a means to support the growth of more sustainable and healthy communities. She is currently in her third year at SUNY Upstate Medical University and plans to practice in a publicly funded hospital once she completes her training.

New York State Budget Restores Funding to Diversity in Medicine Programs

The Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY), on Behalf of Underrepresented in Medicine Students, Thanks the Black, Hispanic, Puerto Rican and Asian Legislative Caucus

(New York, NY) – On behalf of all 16 medical schools in New York State, and particularly medical students from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine, the Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY) commends NY State legislators for restoring funding for AMSNY Diversity in Medicine programs in the FY2019 budget to the current year level.  The program was facing a 20 percent cut, on top of the 22.5 percent cut sustained last year.

“AMSNY Diversity in Medicine programs, funded by the NYS Department of Health, have a 94+ percent success rate and have produced hundreds of doctors who often serve in primary care in underserved communities,” said Jo Wiederhorn, CEO of AMSNY.  “The return on investment for New York is enormous and we are grateful to the State Assembly, the Black, Hispanic, Puerto Rican and Asian Legislative Caucus, the Hispanic Task Force, and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes for understanding this value and advocating for these programs.”

These state-funded programs are crucial, as a lack of diversity in medicine persists in New York State. Underrepresented minorities (Black/African Americans and Hispanic/Latinos) make up approximately 31% of the population but only 12% of the state’s physician workforce, according to data from the SUNY Albany Center for Health Workforce Studies.

This lack of representation has implications for medical care across the state, as research shows that patients who have doctors from similar racial or ethnic backgrounds have better medical experiences. Additionally, physicians from underrepresented minority groups are more likely to practice primary care and practice in low-income and underserved areas.

The new budget also includes $500,000 for diversity in medicine scholarships, which cover the cost of tuition for 1 year for 10 students who graduated from AMSNY post-baccalaureate programs. The cost of medical school tuition is among the biggest barriers to entry for underrepresented in medicine students.

AMSNY’s state-funded Diversity in Medicine Program has enabled over 480 students from economically or educationally underserved areas to become doctors. The programs include the 25-year-old, one-year post-baccalaureate program at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo, and master’s programs at New York Medical College, Stony Brook University School of Medicine, and SUNY Upstate Medical University.

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The Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY) is a consortium of the 16 public and private medical schools throughout New York State. AMSNY’s mission is to promote high quality and cost-efficient health care by assuring that the medical schools of New York State can provide outstanding medical education, care and research. The combined total of New York’s medical schools economic impact equals more than $85.6 billion. This means $1 in every $13 in the New York economy is related to AMSNY medical schools and their primary hospital affiliates. For more information on AMSNY, please visit: www.amsny.org

 

Contact: Jaime Williams, jaime@anatgerstein.com,  718-793-2211 ext 107