Students, residents and faculty members from groups that are underrepresented in medicine networked at an event last week, kicking off a new pipeline program that aims to prepare medical students for residency and future careers.
“The goal of the event is to help students find resident and faculty mentors for their professional development and bring the community of underrepresented medical trainees together,” said Linda Suleiman, MD, a resident in Orthopaedic Surgery and president of Northwestern McGaw Underrepresented Residents and Fellows Forum (NMURFF).
NMURFF, an interdepartmental group for trainees at the McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University, partnered with the Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) and Student National Medical Association (SNMA) to host the event.
Ijeoma Okwandu, a fourth-year medical student interested in obstetrics and gynecology, came to the event to catch up with peers and to seek advice about how to go through her final year of medical school.
“So far, I’ve been given the advice to enjoy my time as a student and to take time to relax before I start residency next year,” Okwandu said.
Prior to the event, twenty-five mentors and mentee pairs were matched by specialty interest prior to the event; others came to the event to connect and network with colleagues. Over the course of the program, mentors and mentees will meet each month and will end with a spring mixer at the culmination of the semester.
Jon Brent, MD, PhD, a resident in Neurology, decided to participate in the program because of his interests in networking and giving back to the medical community.
“I’ve learned a lot over the course of my medical training and it’s nice to give back and share what I’ve learned with others,” he said.
His mentee Jakita Baldwin, a second-year medical student, said it will be good to be paired with someone who has a similar interests and experiences.
“I’m looking forward to the insights he can share as I go forward in my career,” Baldwin said. “I’m happy to get guidance from someone who’s been there before and to have someone to go to when I have questions.”
As the program progresses over the next few months, Dr. Suleiman also plans to work the with the Health Professions Recruitment and Exposure Program, a mentoring program run by Feinberg medical students and supported by the Office of Diversity.
“The next step of the pipeline program is for the medical students to be mentors for college and high school students and encourage minority students to pursue academic medicine,” Dr. Suleiman said.