Reaching out to the Doctors of Tomorrow

University of Michigan Medical School takes on diversity in health care

Doc of Tomw alternate crop

Cass Tech students begin training day at U-M C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

The University of Michigan Medical School attracts the best and brightest students from across the country even the world. But it’s hard to ignore the fact that when you look at the medical school students, trainees and faculty there doesn’t seem to be a lot of racial diversity.

To be fair it’s not just a Michigan problem, but a national one. While Black Americans make up 13 percent of the U.S. population, just 6 percent of today’s practicing physicians are Black. The numbers are not much better for Hispanic Americans.

The reasons are varied, but I think part of the problem is we have not done a good enough job of finding, recruiting and preparing Black and Hispanic students for medical school.

The University of Michigan Medical School’s Doctors of Tomorrow program was born out of a desire to change the face of medicine by recruiting and nurturing high-achieving students and changing the view of the state’s most populous city. Black and Hispanic ninth grade students from Detroit’s Cass Technical High School are provided mentorship and tools for success for a career in science and medicine through hands-on activities and discussions at the U-M Medical School. The monthly visits are designed to give them a sense of what it’s like to be a doctor.

On their first trip to Ann Arbor I was brimming with enthusiasm for the program but completely clueless on how to work with high school students. That first day when two dozen freshmen stepped off the maize and blue University of Michigan bus they appeared – as adolescents often do — tired and even sullen. But as soon as they came in and put on those white coats something changed. Continue reading