Four pipeline programs help break down barriers to a career in medicine
By Ashley Williams
Photograph by Nanette Vega
or Kamisha Charles, a first-generation Haitian American, becoming a doctor once seemed a distant dream. Today, she is a second-year student at the Miller School of Medicine and actively working to help others follow in her footsteps.
Charles credits taking the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) Prep Program, one of four Medical Scholars Programs offered each summer by the Miller School’s Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagements, when she was a University of Miami undergraduate. Now she is a teaching assistant in the program.
“I really wanted to give back,” Charles said. “Many students of color are the first person in their families to navigate medical school applications. It can be a very daunting and confusing process. In our programs you also get to meet physicians, medical students and residents who look like you.”
The four programs are aimed at local high school students and undergraduate students across the country. Each serves a vital role in recruiting and retaining underrepresented students who are considering becoming a physician.
High School Careers in Medicine is for rising high school seniors, the Minority Students in Health Careers Motivation Program is for students who intend to apply to medical school, and the MCAT Preparation Program, which Charles took, is for college students who are applying to medical school by the following spring. The fourth program, Students Training in Research, was not offered this year but will return in 2022.
More than 70 students participated in this summer’s programs, which were offered virtually again due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had to reimagine and adapt to a virtual platform,” said Nanette Vega, Ed.D., the assistant dean for diversity, inclusion and community engagement. “Our goal is to close the opportunity gaps for underrepresented students. We had to remain committed and continue what we have built.”