March 03, 2015

Stefan: Mentoring the Doctors of Tomorrow

Students in the Doctors of Tomorrow program

Students in the Doctors of Tomorrow program.

Minorities are severely underrepresented in the health care field. The University of Michigan Medical School’s Doctors of Tomorrow (DOT) outreach program aims to directly address this issue by exposing underrepresented minority students to careers in medicine, and providing them with the skillset needed to help them pursue this path.

Each fall, a group of about 35 M1 students from the University of Michigan Medical School are paired with freshmen students at Cass Tech High School in Detroit. M2 Stefan Garcia served as a mentor last year and now is a member of the DOT leadership team. Here he shares his thoughts on DOT’s mission and its future impact.

"I learned about Doctors of Tomorrow at the Activities Fair during the beginning of M1 year. When I signed up for the program I thought it would be constructed more like a once-a-month basketball camp for medicine, and it sort of does function like that. The students from Cass Tech come to the med school campus almost every month, learning about global health and health disparities in the lecture hall, and performing hands-on clinical skills in examination rooms and the simulation lab.

“At the end of every visit, students work in small groups on a research project (Capstone project) to explore the pathophysiology, epidemiology, social consequences and treatments for diseases prevalent in the Detroit community, like diabetes and hypertension. The year culminates with a banquet where the students give a presentation on their disease.

“As a member of leadership team, I have the privilege of helping plan and coordinate every visit, including the Clinical Skills Day where the students learn about heart and lung sounds, reflexes, taking vitals, reading X-rays and suturing. The commitment for the mentors is relatively minimal (about 6 hours per month), yet the Cass Tech students consistently tell us that their favorite part of DOT is interacting with their mentor.

The best part of being involved with Doctors of Tomorrow is seeing the excitement on a student’s face when he pulls on a horizontal mattress suture without it breaking, or being a witness to that magical moment when a student learns about a subspecialty in research or medicine she has never even heard of, and decides in that exact moment that she knows what she wants to do when she grows up.

Stefan Garcia, U-M medical student, talking about his work with the Doctors of Tomorrow program