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Inspiring doctors of tomorrow

University of Michigan provides mentoring, training to inspire minority students' interest in medicine

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Cass Technical High School has developed a partnership with the University of Michigan Medical School as part of a larger effort to connect the U-M with high schools in under-served areas and to stimulate minority students’ interest in careers in the medical field.

The partnership to train the doctors of tomorrow will focus on academic preparation, career enrichment, individual mentoring and hands-on training at the Medical School for 20 Cass Technical High School ninth grade students.

Riding a maize and blue bus, Cass Tech students recently commuted for their first visit to the Health System where 700 medical students are trained each year.

“This is an outstanding opportunity for our students to have hands-on experiences from physicians, and others in allied health professions, including nurses, physical and occupational therapists, physician assistants, and radiology technicians,” says Cass Tech Principal Lisa Phillips. “Our students are sure to benefit from this partnership, which will expand their interest in and access to science and medical careers.”

The four-year partnership between the students and the Medical School began with a panel discussion in October with Cass Tech alumni John Carethers, M.D., chair of the U-M Department of Internal Medicine, Lisa Newman, M.D., M.P.H., a breast oncologist recently named a Michiganian of the Year by the Detroit News and featured in O Magazine, Erika Newman, M.D., a pediatric surgeon, and Samantha K. Hendren, M.D., M.P.H., a general and colorectal surgeon.

Residents and medical students also talked to students about what it takes to have a career in medicine, what sacrifices must be made, and the rewards.

Throughout the year at the University of Michigan, Cass Tech students will be exposed to a variety of experiences to further their interest in science and medicine, including spending a day in the anatomy lab, participating in a virtual surgical training session at the Clinical Simulation Center and experiencing how to conduct an operation using the da Vinci® Robotic Surgical System.

The students also will spend a morning shadowing a physician in an outpatient clinic and attend a medical student research presentation. Students will each be assigned a mentor from among the medical students, someone they can call for advice and with whom they can form a long-lasting relationship.

Time will also be devoted to Global Health, where the students will interact with faculty of the U-M School of Public Health who are actively engaged in health projects throughout the world.

Over the course of the year, students will work in groups on their own health-related capstone projects to be presented at the end of the year.

“Despite the wealth of talented young people from Detroit, very few faculty, residents or medical students at the University of Michigan are from Detroit,” says Jonathan F. Finks, M.D., assistant professor of surgery and director of the Adult Bariatric Surgery Program. “The University of Michigan has one of the top medical schools in the country with a strong national and international reach in our applications and admission, but we come up short when it comes to our ability to attract and train talented minority students from our own state.

“The long-term goal is to extend this program to high schools throughout the state as a way of attracting young, talented students from under-served areas into careers in medicine and helping to prepare them for success in the future,” Finks says.

Finks welcomed students Nov. 13 for a tour of C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, the U-M Medical School and to practice physical exam skills in mock exam rooms at the Medical School.

The outreach program is funded by the U-M Department of Surgery Academic Surgical Development Program and the Diversity and Career Development Office of the U-M Medical School.

During the year, the offices of admissions and financial aid from the University of Michigan will present workshops for the students and their parents focused on improving understanding of the admissions and financial aid processes.


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