“We firmly believe the way to address healthcare disparities is to help increase the diversity of the healthcare workforce,” says Dr. Lynne Holden. “One way to do that is to introduce students to health professional role models.”
Many years before Lynne Holden, M.D., became a medical doctor, she dreamed about it. As a child, she was fascinated by the care and concern of patients she saw in the television series Marcus Welby, M.D. And one holiday season, she found a copy of the human anatomy textbook, Gray’s Anatomy, under the Christmas tree—a gift from her parents. She followed that dream through college and medical school, and is now an associate professor of clinical emergency medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, and practices as an emergency medicine physician at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.
Today, Dr. Holden and several colleagues are helping other youngsters—chiefly disadvantaged African American and Hispanic—fulfill their own medical dreams and learn about possible careers in health care through a nonprofit organization she and three colleagues founded in 2006 called Mentoring in Medicine, Inc. (MIM). Among the supporters of MIM—through grants, sponsorships, and active involvement—are the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the Friends of the National Library of Medicine (FNLM).
“We wanted to honor those heroes who helped us succeed and on whose shoulders we now stand,” Dr. Holden says. “We firmly believe that the way to address healthcare disparities is to help increase the diversity of the healthcare workforce. One way to do that is to introduce students to health professional role models.”
MIM does its work in disadvantaged areas with students in three different phases, from third grade through health professional schools, including:
- Recruitment—large conferences and symposia that educate pre-high school students and their parents about medicine, nursing, and allied healthcare professional career opportunities;
- High School—after-school and in-school curricula on advanced biology concepts, organ systems, diseases, and an introduction to healthcare concepts and health career pathways; and
- College/Post-Baccalaureate—mentoring and strategic planning for school admission, including study skills, test preparation, and internships.
MIM ignites an interest in the health professions among these students. The organization also helps prepare students to become competitive applicants to—and graduates from—schools in medicine, nursing, and other health professions.
A medical mentoring program ... is opening new
windows of career possibilities for disadvantaged minority youth and helping
to increase diversity in health care.
“Our goal is to expand their world,” says Dr. Holden. “We want to help students who have a dream but don’t know how to realize that dream.”
MIM currently is under way in New York City, Atlanta, and Oakland, Calif., operating programs that provide academic enrichment, leadership development, and mentoring. Plans are to expand the program to more cities around the country. More than 6,200 students have participated since the program’s start, and more than 560 health professional volunteers have taken part. The results have been encouraging.
“I had the interest but not the confidence to apply to medical school,” says Chinedu ‘Kingsley’ Nwabuobi, a second-year medical student at Einstein College of Medicine. “My MIM family believed in me and were voices of strength, encouraging me and helping me to achieve my goals. I know that I can’t give up because they won’t give up on me.”
To Find Out More
- Mentoring in Medicine
- MedlinePlus: Health Professions
- NIH Office of Science Education: LifeWorks Health Careers