Tour for Diversity in Medicine Urges Minority Students to Seek Medical, Dental Careers

Printer-friendlyPrinter-friendly

The Tour bus and sfaffLast September, more than 300 college students representing underserved communities had a unique opportunity to attend a special pre-med and pre-dental workshop coupled with individual counseling sessions at six campuses from Atlanta to Michigan.

These campus conferences were part of Tour for Diversity in Medicine (T4D), a program that aims to increase the number of students from underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups entering medical and dental fields.

The brainchild of two young physicians, T4D recruits 10 to 12 young minority doctors, dentists, and medical and dental students to headline the tour, moving from campus to campus on a large, branded bus. This group of mobile mentors works with advisors at each institution to host sessions on pre-medical academic achievement, medical and dental school application processes, and other insights helpful to success in medicine and dentistry. All pre-medical advisors from host and nearby institutions, as well as local physicians, dentists, and medical researchers, are invited to take part in programming.

Kameron Leigh Matthews, M.D., J.D., and Alden M. Landry, M.D., were leaders in the Student National Medical Association when they got their idea for T4D campus tours. They obtained funding from a variety of sponsors, including the Aetna Foundation and the U.S. Army Medical Recruiting Brigade, to rent and outfit the tour bus, which houses and transports mentors and equipment.

“We saw a need for a different kind of outreach,” said Dr. Matthews. “We especially want to reach students in places not affiliated with medical schools and with little opportunity for shadowing or other experiences…So much of going into medicine is what you’ve been exposed to.”

The organization aims to provide some of that exposure—specifically offering role models—for students in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), and Tribal Colleges and Universities.

Dr. Matthews, now Medical Director of the Division Street site of Erie Family Health Center in Chicago, and Dr. Landry, an emergency physician at Beth Israel in Boston, continue to raise funds, organize, and take part in the tours. They report from the road on Facebook and Twitter. T4D is currently supported by a partnership with the National Association for the Advisors of the Health Professions.

Look out for the T4D bus making its way to Texas in February and returning to the Mid-Atlantic States in fall 2013. Visit the T4D website to find out how to participate in an upcoming tour, learn how to become a mentor, or recommend a university for an educational stop.