Tour for Diversity in Medicine

#T4DPacNW Day 1: Advising for the Diverse Student

Portland, Oregon was an amazing stop for T4D – with a core group of both college and high school students, the energy in the room was so palpable that one student remarked “You Guys make me want to go home and study!!!” We are happy to motivate more and more students as we visit additional campuses.

The more motivating opportunity for me was our smaller sessions for advisors. The dedicated staff of Portland State University and Portland Community College, including the BUILD EXITO program, joined Dr. Landry, Advisor-Extraordinaire Janae Currington, and I for an open conversation about approaching students with different needs and sometimes not so solid footing.

Some points of advice that were discussed:

  • The definition of diversity is broad and inclusive. While underrepresented minorities have a particular need that should focus on targeted recruitment and retention efforts, students from all backgrounds are needed within our health care workforce if we are to make true headway towards impacting our nation’s health care outcomes.
  • Mentors and Advisors are NOT gatekeepers – we provide motivation and information, but are not the final determining parties in the decisions regarding our students’ futures.
  • Students have to be able to commit to a larger reason for entering health care than just to “help people.” There’s plenty of ways to help others, but health care is a special opportunity to connect through trust and vulnerability.
  • Students should be encouraged to expand their horizons and seek out non-science focused opportunities within their education. Communication, writing, and analytical skills are necessary within clinical medicine and stepping outside of the traditional studies will provide that training.
  • Students should be encouraged to deliberate the decision to enter the health care field – and take their time if needed in finalizing their path. A career in health care is a marathon, not a sprint – and the commitment to these fields requires heart and passion that should not be taken lightly. Some students may need to stabilize themselves with other jobs first, and can return to this career when they are more prepared for the rigor that comes along with it.

To the advisors of Portland and all the many others that we have met along the way, we thank you for the many long hours that you commit to your students and for your passion. Students need both your strong advising and our experienced mentoring in order to move forward with their decisions. Let’s keep working together to motivate, encourage, and inspire!

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