LEAGUES Fellowship

Leadership Exposure for the Advancement of Gender and Underrepresented Minority Equity in Surgery

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect clinical activities and research opportunities across the country, the LEAGUES leadership team want to thank you for your continued interest in our program. The 2020 inaugural class of LEAGUES scholars will be participating in a virtual summer experience that will encompass the research, scholarship, and advocacy components of our original in-person program. We will be providing updates for the details on the 2021 application cycle and whether we will be offering a virtual or in-person program next year over the coming months.


The LEAGUES Fellowship is a summer experience open to all medical students between their first and second years of matriculation in medical school. It aims to provide an early introduction to procedural specialties and their key role in advancing women and underrepresented minority clinicians in our country, surgical research with a focus on healthcare outcomes and policy, and trainee level advocacy for the medical rights of marginalized communities. The fellowship includes 3 positions available per year to complete a four-week immersive introduction to academic surgery and Michigan Medicine. This program is the first of its kind and aims to become the premier model for academic surgery programs looking to create a pipeline of socially conscious and diverse surgical residents through early mentorship and recruitment interventions.

Goals & Objectives

Our goal is to foster the development of future surgeons with a belief in the importance of diversity, gender equality, inclusion, and health equity for patients, students, and professionals in academic surgery through exposure and mentorship within a large academic surgery center while gaining research experience, surgical skills, professional development, and networking.

  • Mentorship: Each student will be assigned to a research mentor within our surgery department who will in turn oversee the participation of the student in a short-term research project. These ventures will be identified ahead of time for feasibility within the timeline of the fellowship.
  • Research and Academic Opportunities: The scholars will have an expected 40 hr/week commitment which should be largely dedicated to working on their selected project. Bi-weekly lunch seminars will be hosted by the Department of Surgery and will cover topics on leadership, advocacy, career development, application strategies, and opportunities within academic surgery.
  • Clinical Experience: Two bi-weekly shadowing half-days will be embedded in the scholar’s schedule to experience select surgical subspecialties.

Lecture Series

LEAGUES is committed to the success of all students affected by the widespread cancellation of summer opportunities. Thus, we will be providing access to recordings of its lecture series. Recordings will be posted approximately 1 day after the original date of the lecture.

2020 Lecture Schedule:

  • 7/6/20: How to Be Productive: Transforming Your Interests Into Impact with Dr. Ryan Howard
  • 7/7/20: Posters and Presentations with Jessica Santos-Parker
  • 7/8/20: Meet the Specialist with Dr. Seth Waits (Transplant Surgery)
  • 7/9/20: Basic and Translational Research 101 with Dr. Brooke Bredbeck
  • 7/14/20: Peer Mentorship/Leading at Every Stage with the LEAGUES Team
  • 7/16/20: Why Academic Surgery with Dr. Justin Dimick
  • 7/16/20: Meet the Specialist with Dr. Christina Angeles (Surgical Oncology)
  • 7/20/20: How to Write a Paper in 10 steps/Visual Abstracts with Dr. Andrew Ibrahim
  • 7/21/20: Global Surgery Partnerships - Rwanda with Dr. John Scott
  • 7/23/20: Trainee Level Advocacy & Policy with Maria Santos
  • 7/27/20: Global Surgery Partnerships - Ghana with Dr. Gifty Kwakye
  • 7/28/20: Using Social Media for Professional Networking with Dr. Valeria Valbuena
  • 7/29/20: Meet the Specialist with Dr. Brian George (Trauma Critical Care)

Eligibility Information

The LEAGUES Fellowship is open to any 1st year medical students enrolled in a U.S. medical school (completed year 1 of medical school) with demonstrated interest in furthering the mission of our program as demonstrated through their application.

Funding & Stipend Information

Funding for the LEAGUES fellowship is provided by the Michigan Medicine Department of Surgery. A stipend will be assigned to each participant for coverage of room and board, and general expenses during their fellowship. The award is $2,000 per scholar and three positions are awarded per cycle.

Application Requirements

  • Basic Information:
    • Name, Preferred Name, Address, DOB, email
    • Preferred Pronouns, Race/Ethnicity
    • Undergraduate Education, Medical School, Program (MD, MD/MPH, MD/PhD, Other)
  • Short Essays:
    • Prompt 1: Describe the importance of diversity within a team of medical providers. How does this contribute to patient care? What about you and your experiences can contribute to a diverse team of providers to improve patient care? (Word Limit: 300 Words)
    • Prompt 2: Describe your interest in surgery. If you were selected to participate in this program, what would be your personal goals for the month? (Word Limit: 300 Words)
    • Prompt 3: Describe at least two research topics you are interested in exploring. While we cannot guarantee that you will be paired with a faculty mentor who is a perfect match, we will try to pair you with someone who can guide you in pursuing your interests to the best of our ability. (Word Limit: 300 Words)
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Two Letters of Recommendation, including one from a current medical school faculty or advisor

A committee composed of faculty and residents from the Michigan Medicine Department of Surgery will select participants based on academic achievement and leadership potential. Special notice will be given to applicants with a demonstrated commitment to advancement of minority affairs.

Application Timeline

  • January 2020: Call for Applications
  • March 31, 2020: Application Submission Deadline (5 PM EST)
  • April 21, 2020: Awards Notification

The fellowship timeframe spans the month of July. Funding is provided by the Michigan Department of Surgery. Housing arrangements are the sole responsibility of the applicant.

Contact Us

Valeria Valbuena, MD

Program Lead, LEAGUES Fellowship