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Future Doctors proves successful for increasing diversity in graduate medical program

Since 2010, the state of Utah has grown more rapidly than any other in the country, principally among individuals from groups underrepresented in medicine (URiM). At the University of Utah Spencer Fox Eccles School of Medicine (SFESOM), these groups include a number of minoritized communities and women from all backgrounds. Utah is home to a growing Latinx population, eight Native American tribal nations, and the highest percentage of Pacific Islanders in the continental United States (only Hawaii and Alaska have higher representation). Additionally, more than 60,000 new Americans have come to Utah through refugee programs in the past decade, with more than 120 languages represented.

To increase the diversity of the physician workforce in Utah, the School of Medicine established and funded the Future Doctors (FD) program in 1998. FD is a precollege program designed for high school learners to promote academic preparedness and increase exposure to health careers. Future Doctors focuses on recruiting URiM students from local schools through partnerships with teachers and administrators. Employees from the School of Medicine visit classrooms and give presentations designed to encourage participation. Future Doctors students are recruited from groups of students less likely to attend college in the first three years after high school graduation.

In this study, the effectiveness of the Future Doctors program was examined to determine its impact on increasing the diversity of students (especially from URiM communities) in Health Sciences. Researchers found that “Because FD has higher race, ethnicity, and gender diversity than the University of Utah [and the general state population], the high school program may have contributed to the diversity of the university’s programs by influencing participants to pursue college or graduate school.” To read the entire research brief, you can visit the Peer-Review in Medical Education Research (PRiMER) website.

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