HOUSTON– Less than 6 percent of American Indians, Blacks and Hispanic collectively are physicians and dentists according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Why is this a problem? Most often, preparation for medical school is expensive and intimidating to disadvantaged students, thus making them reluctant to pursue medicine.
With fewer diverse health care providers treating an increasingly diverse U.S. population, it is questionable whether tomorrow’s patients will receive culturally competent care.
Several tools are now creating more accessible paths of opportunity for disadvantaged students, including a free, six-week summer medical preparatory program for college freshman and sophomores and a “jewel” known as MCAT Pearls, to help break down barriers and open doors.
Alfa Diallo, MD has created a path of knowledge for others to follow. The 34-year-old emergency room physician learned early that “success is based on access to resources.” Diallo’s parents, both health care professionals, paid for courses to prepare him for the medical school entrance exam, but for many of his peers lack of time and money are major impediments to mastering the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).
“The system didn’t seem fair,” says Diallo. “How can students who are working full time and surviving on student loans eke out the resources to pay for and attend a prep class?” The courses, ranging in price from $1,000-$1,500, also require intensive class and study time, heaped onto an already crowded schedule of working student.
The University of Texas Dental Branch and Medical School at Houston SMDEP seeks talented and motivated students from a variety of backgrounds including those who are underrepresented or underserved who are interested in pursuing a career in dentistry and medicine, including those who have an interest in serving the underserved.
The mission of SMDEP is to assist students in enhancing their knowledge, skills, and attitudes to make them more competitive and to improve their chances of becoming successful applicants to a medical or dental school of their choice.
SMDEP scholars will experience the following during their dedicated and intense six week experience at UTHealth in Houston: Academic enrichment in five core areas: microbiology, anatomy and physiology, pre-calculus/calculus, physics, and organic chemistry;
Enhancement of study and communication skills while exploring ethical and professional behavior in healthcare; Participate in financial planning, career development workshops, and academic counseling; Shadow clinicians in such fields as emergency medicine, family practice, internal medicine, restorative dentistry, and oral surgery; Participate in admission discussions and simulated interviews with SMDEP tutor members and admission deans in preparation for the formal application process; Exposure of students to the real world of dentistry and medicine through a clinical medicine lecture series on cutting edge topics presented by experts in the field; Interact socially with other SMDEP scholars, medical and dental students, and faculty who are committed mentors to enrich the experience.
A meal plan for breakfast and dinner 7 days a week at Memorial Herman Hospital, plus stipend support for lunches and some catered meals.
Travel Assistance is not provided other than free shuttles to both airports when the summer program concludes. There will be three stipends given in three installments at the beginning, middle, and end of program. Housing will be on the Rice University campus dorm.
Health Insurance is not provided; however, scholars are required to bring with them their insurance cards in the event they require medical attention.
For more information about SMDEP or to apply for the summer program, visit www.smdep.org, You may also call Rebecca L. Lopez at 713-486-4532 or Paula O’Neill (for the dental program) at 713-486-4292