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Committees  |   May 2020
Moving Beyond the Statistics: One Student at a Time The Doctors Back to School and Committee on Professional Diversity Annual Mentorship Event
Author Affiliations
  • Dominique Arce, M.D., M.P.H.
    Committee on Professional Diversity
  • Stephen R. Estimé, M.D.
    Committee on Professional Diversity
  • Amber K. Brooks, M.D.
    Committee on Professional Diversity
Article Information
Central and Peripheral Nervous Systems / Critical Care / Obstetric Anesthesia / Pain Medicine / Pediatric Anesthesia / Advocacy and Legislative Issues / Committees
Committees   |   May 2020
Moving Beyond the Statistics: One Student at a Time The Doctors Back to School and Committee on Professional Diversity Annual Mentorship Event
ASA Monitor 5 2020, Vol.84, 36-37.
ASA Monitor 5 2020, Vol.84, 36-37.
Dominique Arce, M.D., M.P.H., is an Instructor in Anesthesia, Harvard Medical School, and Director, Obstetric Anesthesia Fellowship Research, Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Brigham and Woman’s Hospital, Boston.
Dominique Arce, M.D., M.P.H., is an Instructor in Anesthesia, Harvard Medical School, and Director, Obstetric Anesthesia Fellowship Research, Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Brigham and Woman’s Hospital, Boston.
Dominique Arce, M.D., M.P.H., is an Instructor in Anesthesia, Harvard Medical School, and Director, Obstetric Anesthesia Fellowship Research, Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Brigham and Woman’s Hospital, Boston.
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Stephen R. Estimé, M.D., is Assistant Professor, Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, University of Chicago Medical Center, Illinois.
Stephen R. Estimé, M.D., is Assistant Professor, Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, University of Chicago Medical Center, Illinois.
Stephen R. Estimé, M.D., is Assistant Professor, Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, University of Chicago Medical Center, Illinois.
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Amber K. Brooks, M.D., is Associate Professor of Anesthesiology, Pain Medicine Section, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston Salem, North Carolina.
Amber K. Brooks, M.D., is Associate Professor of Anesthesiology, Pain Medicine Section, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston Salem, North Carolina.
Amber K. Brooks, M.D., is Associate Professor of Anesthesiology, Pain Medicine Section, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston Salem, North Carolina.
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How do we move beyond the staggeringly low percentage of underrepresented minorities in medicine? We believe it is by engaging one student at a time.
With the percentage of Black/African American and Hispanic medical school graduates at 6% and 5%, respectively,1  programs that bring together underrepresented minority youth and physicians are essential. The enduring motivation attributed to successful mentor-ship programs stems from the ability to reach students on an individual level, and that is just what The Doctors Back to School™ program has allowed us to do.2,3 
During the ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2016 annual meeting, the Committee on Professional Diversity partnered with The Doctors Back to School program, bringing the anesthesiologists’ perspective to this amazing initiative that introduces minority students to careers in medicine. Over the past four years, each volunteer has returned from the event with a story. A story of how they saw themselves in a certain child or how they bonded with a particular student; although every story is unique, they all center around a spark of inspiration felt when those connections were made. This is how we change the face of medicine – by bringing our success stories to underprivileged neighborhoods and making what seems foreign and distant familiar and within reach. Dr. Estime, 2019 volunteer, said, “I believe those of us that have found success often got here not only from hard work, but from a series of fortunate circumstances and opportunities that others do not have.” The opportunity to participate in this program is undoubtedly one of those fortunate circumstances – the right physician walking into the right classroom at just the right time.
During the ANESTHESIOLOGY 2019 annual meeting, a group of anesthesiologists travelled to Carver Middle School, in Orlando. Tucked away from the excitement of the amusement parks, Carver is a special place with teachers and administrators who strive to provide a quality education through shared responsibility in a safe and supportive environment so that all students can meet the challenges of a global society. This powerful mission statement was felt as we were welcomed with open arms into the school and escorted through the hallways and into classrooms by student ambassadors. Each classroom was filled with students eager to learn from our experiences and hear our message. For many students, this was their first encounter with physicians who not only looked like them, but many of whom came from similar backgrounds. These were physicians not there to treat an illness, but to open young minds to the potential of becoming physicians themselves. The students were enthusiastic and asked many insightful questions, ranging from our desires to go to medical school, to dealing with the sight of blood and how we keep patients safe under anesthesia. We also helped clarify many common misconceptions about anesthesia, increasing awareness about many topics that would be shared, we are certain, with typical middle school fervor. Our familiar faces allowed the students to open up and speak freely without fear of judgement. Dr. Obmara, 2019 volunteer, was struck by the distinct energy in each room that got both the students and physicians fully engaged. Dr. Davidovich, 2019 volunteer, commented that, “Carver Middle School has gotten it right” by creating an atmosphere conducive to helping their students thrive.

The opportunity to participate in this program is undoubtedly one of those fortunate circumstances – the right physician walking into the right classroom at just the right time.

As an additional bonus, we brought along a very special guest – the 20th Surgeon General of the United States and previous chair of the Committee for Professional Diversity, Vice Admiral Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. He showed his commitment to this initiative and joined our team of volunteers shortly after giving the ANESTHESIOLOGY 2019 Emery A. Rovenstine Memorial Lecture. He spoke to the students about his role as the “Nation’s Doctor,” the dangers of smoking, the importance of hard work and dedication, and also gave advice on how to speak with confidence.4  Most importantly, he connected with the students by sharing his personal journey, which, to their surprise, mirrored many of their own lives. Prior to our visit, many students said they never met someone who worked in the medical field. Now they can say they met the Surgeon General of the United States of America, a black anesthesiologist, who grew up poor and was once unsure of his future. For these students, Dr. Adams was their fortunate circumstance – the right physician, walking into the right classroom at the right time. The lasting memory of our visit to their middle school will, hopefully, serve as the pivotal moment that leads them toward a career in medicine, forever changing their lives.
In the weeks following our visit, the students reflected on their participation in The Doctors Back to School™ program. The overarching theme of these reflective essays was “caring.”
The students felt that we were caring for choosing their school, a school the students described as “mostly black” and that “most people think is bad.” They believed our visit helped “change their environment,” which they acknowledged was important for their growth and development. The students appreciated that Dr. Adams cared and genuinely desired for each of them to live a “good, healthy, successful life.”
This event has been made possible by ASA, the Committee on Professional Diversity and the American Medical Association. However, it is the physician volunteers and their passion for mentorship that allows the event to thrive. Thank you to all who put in the time to help others envision their future.
Acknowledgements: Shannon Ligon, Esq, founder of PrettySMART law; Jasmin Hollis, Carver Middle School resources teacher; and Jackie Ramsey, Carver Middle School principal for their dedication to mentorship and for their assistance organizing this event.
References:
The Association of American Medical Colleges. Diversity in Medical Education: Current Trends in Medical Education. https://www.aamcdiversityfactsandfigures2016.org/. Last accessed November 22, 2020.
The Doctors Back to School™ program. American Medical Association website. https://www.ama-assn.org/member-groups-sections/minority-affairs/doctors-back-school-program. Last accessed November 22, 2020.
Gardner O. Pipeline programs and system reform: A path to improving health equity. Association of American Medical Colleges website. https://www.aamc.org/news-insights/pipeline-programs-and-system-reform-path-improving-health-equity. Last accessed November 22, 2020.
U.S. Surgeon General inspires students [news release]. Orlando, FL: Orange County Public Schools; October 23, 2019. https://www.ocps.net/departments/media_relations/newsroom/u__s__surgeon_general_inspires_students. Last accessed November 5, 2019.
Dominique Arce, M.D., M.P.H., is an Instructor in Anesthesia, Harvard Medical School, and Director, Obstetric Anesthesia Fellowship Research, Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Brigham and Woman’s Hospital, Boston.
Dominique Arce, M.D., M.P.H., is an Instructor in Anesthesia, Harvard Medical School, and Director, Obstetric Anesthesia Fellowship Research, Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Brigham and Woman’s Hospital, Boston.
Dominique Arce, M.D., M.P.H., is an Instructor in Anesthesia, Harvard Medical School, and Director, Obstetric Anesthesia Fellowship Research, Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Brigham and Woman’s Hospital, Boston.
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Stephen R. Estimé, M.D., is Assistant Professor, Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, University of Chicago Medical Center, Illinois.
Stephen R. Estimé, M.D., is Assistant Professor, Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, University of Chicago Medical Center, Illinois.
Stephen R. Estimé, M.D., is Assistant Professor, Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, University of Chicago Medical Center, Illinois.
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Amber K. Brooks, M.D., is Associate Professor of Anesthesiology, Pain Medicine Section, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston Salem, North Carolina.
Amber K. Brooks, M.D., is Associate Professor of Anesthesiology, Pain Medicine Section, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston Salem, North Carolina.
Amber K. Brooks, M.D., is Associate Professor of Anesthesiology, Pain Medicine Section, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston Salem, North Carolina.
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