Student Voices: Recruitment vs. Retention–How is your institution doing?

AishaIs it enough to simply recruit a diverse student body? Aisha Omorodion is a third year medical student at Albany Medical College who says too many schools are just trying to reach quotas, and not giving thought to the more complex issues of academic support and student loan debt. Learn more about her thoughts on how schools can crack the code to making a real difference when it comes to maintaining diversity.


Host: We're broadcasting live at the AAMC in Baltimore 2015. And this year's conversation is about change. What needs to change in health care? I know there's a ton of things, but we're asking each person what specific thing is on their mind right now.

Announcer: Asking questions. Seeking solutions. Algorithms for Innovation. Live from Baltimore at the AAMC 2015.

Host: Aisha Omorodion is a third year medical student at Albany Medical College, talking about change. What's the thing that we need to change? I know there's so much in health care that really kind of needs to change, but let's just pick one thing, what would that be?

Omorodion: If I had to pick one thing that needs to change, I would pick medical education, and the type of people that are being admitted to medical school. I feel like diversity is a big component because we're practicing in a very diverse country, and there are a lot of preconceived notions with specific cultural groups that believe, that don't necessarily feel comfortable with medical care. And so, they don't go forth and get the primary medical care that they need for prevention.

Host: So you feel that's because they're not going to somebody like them? Is that what you're saying?

Omorodion: Yes, I do. Who understands the things that they go through and are culturally sensitive to those things.

Host: Yeah, so how do we overcome that problem? What do we need to do to solve that?

Omorodion: That's a really hard question.

Host: I know it is, but is there like a couple of ideas that you think are promising?

Omorodion: I think that the medical schools are already really making a serious effort in recruiting a diverse student population. But, the main thing that I think they need to focus on is retention of those students in medical school, so they can actually get out of medical school and be successful, practicing practitioners in the field. And I feel like that's where we're primarily lacking, is making sure that they're able to get through those hard exams and not leave with a load of debt and decide not to go to primary care options and do specialties instead.

Host: Yeah. What's in the way of us making this change, do you think? What's our barrier? What do we need to overcome to make this happen?

Omorodion: Dedicated people and time.

Host: Yeah.

Omorodion: And effort.

Host: Yeah.

Omorodion: And focus on this issue.

Host: Yeah.

Omorodion: I don't think that there's enough focus on this issue.

Host: How are you bringing focus to the issue? What are you trying to do as a medical student, somebody who's passionate about this?

Omorodion: So the whole reason why I decided to do the Organization of Student Representatives is to try to foster some of this change, and come to these meetings and be a part of the discussion, so I can bring it back to my home institution, and hopefully, spark change in someone else.

Host: Yeah. So you're coming up. You're dealing with a lot of people that have practiced medicine for a long time, are you finding that they're resistant to the change or are you making some inroads?

Omorodion: It's not that I feel they are resistant to the change, I feel like they're not really recognizing the problem. I feel like a lot of schools will focus on bringing a diverse student body in because there's a quota to fill rather than really focusing on retaining the people that are there. Once they get them in the student body, there's no follow-up.

Host: Yay, we made our quota.

Omorodion: Exactly.

Host: Not the, yay, we graduated our quota.

Omorodion: Right, right. And that's what they're focused on, and I think that's the primary issue.

Host: Make your appeal for your passion here to include more people in medicine. What would it be that you would say to somebody if you were in the elevator with them, that's in leadership to get them to recognize the problem? Because it sounds like you feel like the problem's not recognized at this point.

Omorodion: I would say that as America's population is changing, we need more physicians that look like me. We need people that look like the population that we are trying to treat.

Announcer: Reimagining healthcare. Explore more at