The Tour for Diversity in Medicine, a volunteer program started by two young doctors, will launch its third bus tour the week of February 11, this time traveling to six Texas universities to help minority students pursue careers in medicine and dentistry. Thanks to a grant from the Aetna Foundation, 15 doctors, dentists and medical school students from across the country will travel more than 1,000 miles to provide full-day, hands-on workshops to undergrad students on six different campuses.
The Tour for Diversity in Medicine hopes to help diversify the health care profession by giving minority students the advice and tools they’ll need to pursue medical careers. Although African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans compose more than 26 percent of the U.S. population, they represent only 6 percent of practicing physicians and 5 percent of dentists, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. In 2011, African-American and Hispanic students made up only 15 percent of all U.S. medical school applicants. 1 Yet research shows that patients who receive care from doctors of the same background are more satisfied with their care and more engaged in their treatment.
“Not only does today’s physician workforce not reflect the growing diversity of our country, but this health equity gap is often most apparent in the at-risk minority communities that need help most. We are trying to make a tangible difference by going directly to students and showing them the changes that they can make for themselves and their communities by considering a career in medicine,” said Alden Landry, M.D., co-founder of the Tour for Diversity in Medicine and an emergency department physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. “Our tours address the national need for a more diverse physician population at a grassroots level—school by school and student by student.”