One of our goals is to educate culturally competent physicians who understand their patient's culture and the context of their world. There are two effective approaches to ensure we have physicians who can provide medical care for minority populations. One is to educate physicians who come from the same communities as their patients and then stay to practice there. Another is to ensure students understand the cultural differences among various ethnic groups when it comes to health and illness. This is called "cultural competency "and is an essential educational cornerstone for all medical students, and one we have built into all four years of our curriculum.
Accreditation Looks at Diversity
The national body responsible for accrediting U.S. medical schools is the
Liaison Committee on Medical Education (
). It requires medical schools to set goals for diversity and then monitor their progress toward these goals. The
LCME describes physicians from large minority populations as underrepresented in medicine. Since Las Vegas attracts citizens from all over the world, the city's demographics are extremely diverse. According to 2012 statistics from the City of Las Vegas Economic and Urban Development Department & Redevelopment Agency the population of Las Vegas is 46 percent white, 33 percent Hispanic, 11 percent African-American, 6 percent Asian, and 1 percent Native American and Pacific Islander. While demographic diversity provides opportunities for educating medical students that can practice here, we also must help students at all grade levels of their education to learn about the medical profession, enroll in STEM classes, and know what is expected if they decide to pursue a career in the medical field.
Inaugual Pre-Medicine Conference
The UNLV School of Medicine's Office of Diversity and Inclusion is focusing on strategies to bring well-prepared students to our school who will reflect the incredible diversity of our community. Pipeline programs with local high schools, the Desert Meadows AHEC Camp Med program, and just last week, the UNLV School of Medicine's Office of Diversity and Inclusion in partnership with the UNLV Office of Diversity held its inaugural Pre-Medicine Conference. Undergraduate students from all Nevada System of Higher Education institutions were invited. The conference was specifically for students in their first two years of college and in pre-medical programs.
I would like to thank Benita Wolff, MEd, Director of Diversity and Inclusion for coordinating the program, and UNLV's Office of Diversity and Initiatives led by Rainier Spencer, PhD, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Interim Chief Diversity Officer.
The day kicked off with more than 50 students at a networking and Q&A session with the Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion Mario J. Gaspar de Alba, MD, FAAP. I welcomed the students and shared my journey into medicine. Next the students heard from a panel of teaching physicians moderated by Dr. Gaspar de Alba that included Jennifer Baynosa, MD, FACS, Program Director of the General Surgery Residency; Beverly Neyland, MD, Professor of Pediatrics; and Charles St. Hill, MD, MSc, FACS, hepatopancreatobiliary surgeon and surgical oncologist. All of the physicians are currently faculty with the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine but soon will become UNLV School of Medicine faculty on July 1, 2017. They discussed their personal career paths, how they chose their specialty and a career in academic medicine.
Most of the students' questions were answered during an informal coffee break with faculty members and one of the medical students recently accepted into our charter class.
Ann Diggins, MA, Director of Admissions and Student Affairs, discussed what is needed to have a successful medical school application. She emphasized that UNLV School of Medicine is committed to community service and engagement and this type of service is important to note when completing applications.
Faculty members next discussed the medical school's curriculum and highlights. Mark Guadagnoli, PhD shared his research on how to become efficient and successful learners. Kate Martin, MD, MPH, FAAFP, provided a synopsis of our community service and clinical experiences, and talked about shadowing opportunities at the University Medical Center and how this experience can help students decide if they want a career in medicine.
The conference provided a wonderful opportunity for us to help college students in the medical school pipeline to explore their motivations for medicine. Evaluations of the event, indicated the conference provided students additional motivation and focus to achieve their dream. The students gave the conference high marks and said they learned strategies on how to apply to medical school.
The faculty members especially enjoyed meeting students from across the state, and are looking forward to seeing these students as future medical school applicants.