The half-day event on Friday, February 11, included interactive experiences at Loma Linda University’s Centennial Complex, Medical Simulation Lab, Clinical Skills Education Center and the School of Allied Health’s Teaching Kitchen.
“I am proud of our medical students that are serving the community and coming up with creative ways to mentor the youth,” said Tamara Thomas, MD, dean of LLU School of Medicine. “This event is an example of how our students, faculty physicians and university is invested in inspiring the next generation and increasing diversity in the healthcare profession.”
The event was organized by a committee of second-year medical students in partnership with the School of Medicine’s chapter of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA), and Operation NEXTT (Navigating EXcellence Today for Tomorrow), a student-led initiative to help minority students recognize their potential to pursue meaningful careers early on in their educational journeys.
“This was an opportunity to give these students a chance to learn about our mission, interact with physicians that look like them, and showcase the diversity that is present at Loma Linda University,” said Shantal Tummings, a second-year medical student and chair of “Doctor Me,” co-director for Operation NEXTT, and a member of the LLU SNMA Chapter.
Second-year medical students have conducted tutoring and mentorship events at Del Vallejo as part of Operation NEXTT. The committee worked with leadership at Del Vallejo to create the on-campus experience at LLU to inspire the next generation.
“The name ‘Doctor Me’ is meant to encompass the importance of being able to visualize yourself accomplishing your goals and taking ownership of your future,” said Yamiko Chanza, second-year medical student, co-director of “Doctor Me” and vice president of LLU SNMA Chapter. “I hope the students left with the realization that they are worthy of dreaming big dreams. Regardless of whether that dream leads them into medicine or another career path, they have a team of people who are willing to invest in them and who care about their success.”
“I remember being in their shoes and not seeing medicine as an attainable career option. I also had limited knowledge of the widespread disciplines that existed in healthcare,” said Marissa Wright, a second-year medical student, “Doctor Me” committee member, and community service organizer for LLU SNMA Chapter. “These programs can change lives by providing knowledge of opportunities, access to information and resources, and the opportunity to interact with people you feel you can actually relate to.”
Studies show that African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans comprise approximately one-quarter of the total population of the United States but represent less than 10% of the workforce in the health professions of medicine, nursing, dentistry, and pharmacy.
To help encourage and prepare minorities into the health sciences, Loma Linda University has several pipeline programs, including the Minority Introduction to the Health Science (MITHS), the Discovery Program, and the Apprenticeship Bridge to College (ABC) Program.
In addition, the university’s Community-Academic Partners in Service (CAPS) Office offers a variety of programs for students, faculty, and staff to serve the community including many other student-led initiatives.