In Uncategorized, Voices of Diversity

Doctors, Dentists to Visit Six Campuses to Advise, Mentor Future Health Care Providers

HARTFORD, Conn., September 17, 2012 — Hip Hop Health Inc, in conjunction with the Aetna Foundation and the US Army is excited to announce the 2nd Tour for Diversity in Medicine, an innovative effort to promote careers in the health professions to underrepresented minorities.  Conceived by former medical student leaders, Tour for Diversity in Medicine is a grassroots effort to educate, inspire, and cultivate future minority physicians.  Current trends in racial and ethnic health care disparities are widely documented and a major focus of many recent federal and state health policy changes.  One frequently discussed solution is the need to increase the number of minority physicians.  The numbers of underrepresented minorities in medical schools (those racial and ethnic groups that are underrepresented in the medical profession relative to their numbers in the general population) are alarming.  T4D seeks to address this concern by using the experiences and advising of current minority physicians and medical students to help undergraduate students along the educational pipeline to medical school.

Made possible with a $55,000 award from the Aetna Foundation and $20,000 from the US Army, the 2nd Tour for Diversity in Medicine aims to provide college students of color with a wide range of information and advice to plan for careers in medicine and dentistry – the ultimate goal being the diversification of the health care profession. Although minority populations comprise more than 26 percent of the U.S. population, African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans combined represent only about 6 percent of practicing physicians and 5 percent of dentists.

Alden Landry, M.D., an emergency department physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and co-director of Tour for Diversity in Medicine, said, “We hope to build on the success of the our Tour in February. We were successful in reaching out with over 500 pre-health students  with our first Tour and we hope that with our next Tour to reach hundreds more. We learned a lot from the students on our past Tour and this iteration will be even better. We are excited about the mentors on the Tour as they represent the students we are trying to motivate.”

Landry noted that research has found that patients who receive care from physicians of the same race rate their medical visits as more satisfying and report being more engaged in their treatment than do patients who see physicians of other races.

Gillian Barclay, D.D.S., Dr.P.H., vice president of the Aetna Foundation, said, “As our nation’s population becomes increasingly diverse, we need health care providers who have the cultural competency to engage their patients fully with their treatment and ensure good health outcomes. Multiplying the number of men and women from underrepresented minorities is a fundamental strategy to achieving health equity in the United States. The Aetna Foundation is pleased to be the Tour’s founding sponsor and support this innovative initiative as part of our portfolio of programs aimed at developing health care leaders from underrepresented communities.”

Brigade Commander, Colonel Karrie A. Fristoe said “’The U.S. Army Medical Recruiting Brigade is proud to partner with the Tour for Diversity in Medicine. We are excited about the opportunities during the Tour to share information about our Health Professions Scholarship Program and opportunities in Army Medicine.”

Dr. Bridget Rideau, Pre-medical coordinator at Jackson State University, one of the Tour Educational Stops for February 2012, said, “The Tour for Diversity in Medicine was monumental because it really showed our students that people were interested in them.  Sometimes students feel as if no one is interested in their success; now they feel as if their goals are more tangible and attainable.  The education they received provided them with direction and sources for further information.”

The six Educational Stops for the 2nd Tour for Diversity in Medicine will be:

  • September 24, 2012, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
  • September 25, 2012, Fisk University, Nashville, TN
  • September 26, 2012, Kentucky State University, Frankfort, KY
  • September 27, 2012, Indiana University Bloomington, Bloomington, IN
  • September 28, 2012, Central State University, Wilberforce, OH
  • September 29, 2012, University of Michigan – Dearborn, Dearborn, MI

There will also be an additional event at University of Detroit Mercy – Detroit MI on September 29, 2012.

At each school, about 150 students are expected to participate in the full-day program. Session topics range from the application process and admissions tests to choosing the right specialty to an overview of health disparities. Students will have the opportunity to interact with the presenting physicians, dentists and medical students and hear their stories about how they overcame obstacles to pursue a career as a health care professional.

Additionally on September 29, 2012, the University of Detroit Mercy will host a special session for students interested in careers in dentistry where students will visit their campus, meet with leadership and participate in skills workshops. Other sponsors of the tour include the Association of American Medical Colleges, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.

“Our curriculum emphasizes the importance of early exposure, advising, and mentorship.  As current professionals, we acknowledge how these factors were important in our own career development, and so therefore, we hope to give back to current students,” said Kameron Matthews, M.D., J.D., co-director of the Tour for Diversity in Medicine and a family physician in Chicago. “We want to connect students with physicians and dentists who are dedicated to their growth and their future.”

“We are excited about this Tour because it takes us to another part of the country to spread our message,” Landry said. Matthews added, “we are planning our next Tour across the state of Texas for February 2013 as well.”

Landry, Matthews and other health care providers on the Tour for Diversity in Medicine plan to blog, tweet and use other forms of social media on their week-long Tour. People are invited to follow on Facebook and on Twitter @Tour4Diversity or visit

The Aetna Foundation supports multiple programs to create a diverse group of health care leaders from today’s young people, including the AcademyHealth/Aetna Foundation Minority Scholars ProgramFour Directions Summer Research Programthe Aetna Foundation/National Medical Fellowships Healthcare Leadership Program and the National Academy Foundation.

About the Aetna Foundation
The Aetna Foundation, Inc. is the independent charitable and philanthropic arm of Aetna Inc. Since 1980, Aetna and the Aetna Foundation have contributed $394 million in grants and sponsorships, including $15.6 million in 2010. As a national health foundation, we promote wellness, health, and access to high-quality health care for everyone. This work is enhanced by the time and commitment of Aetna employees, who have volunteered more than 2.3 million hours since 2003. Our current giving is focused on addressing the rising rate of adult and childhood obesity in the U.S.; promoting racial and ethnic equity in health and health care; and advancing integrated health care. For more information, visit

About Tour for Diversity in Medicine
The Tour for Diversity in Medicine (T4D), a project of Hip Hop Health Inc., seeks to educate inspire and cultivate future physicians and dentists of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds by forming local connections in order to fulfill a national need. Conceived by former medical student leaders, T4D will bring premedical enrichment activities to underrepresented minority undergraduate students in order to assist with the diversification of the health professions workforce. T4D is a grassroots effort, with its inaugural Tour in February 2012 across five Southern states. Visit for more information.

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