Sonal Chandratre, MD; Gifty Marfowaa, BS; Abdul-Rahman Abdel-Reheem, BS; Pinky Jha, MD
Mentorship and scholarship are crucial for success in academic medicine. Previous literature has shown that underrepresented minorities in various disciplines of medicine often have difficulty finding adequate mentorship support to aid in their scholarly productivity and professional development. This challenge has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic as students cannot connect with mentors in traditional ways. Acknowledging the value of mentorship and the challenge that underrepresented minority (URM) medical students face, we sought to create a platform to provide them with early research and medical writing opportunities to get easy access to dedicated mentors devoted to their academic success and to receive support for their overall success in medical school and beyond.
This innovative virtual program included URM medical students, faculty, and other medical students at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW). A pilot program led by the primary and senior authors was completed successfully in the 2020-2021 academic year. Two faculty (primary and senior authors) and 2 peer mentors were connected virtually with 4 URM medical students who completed a survey prior to the session indicating their past research experience and their expectations for the program. Faculty were recruited based on their interest in mentoring URM medical students. A virtual workshop was held to introduce the cohort of students to the platform and explore the various means of scholarship, including writing case reports and letters to the editor. The URM medical students completed 3 case reports that were presented at a national conference and 1 letter to the editor during the 2-month pilot program.
Based on program feedback, we expanded it to the 2021-2022 academic year. After holding an initial workshop, we created a mentor-mentee model where medical students in the first and second year were paired with a peer medical student mentor from the third or fourth year. Participants included 16 URM medical students with 6 student peer mentors and 9 faculty mentors. URM medical students were involved in at least 1 scholarly project, and this program was successful in having more than 15 accepted case reports to 3 national meetings (American College of Physicians, Society of Hospital Medicine, Society of General Internal Medicine). Using the resources provided by the cohort, URM medical students were able to secure research opportunities. Scholarly productivity was 5 times greater than the previous year.
The URM medical student mentorship program has highlighted the crucial role of structured mentorship platforms in promoting scholarly productivity among this population. The next steps for our project will be to pursue additional institutional funding and expanding our mentor base with faculty from varied disciplines. The program’s success will be assessed by the number of scholarly projects presented at meetings and published in peer-reviewed journals, along with survey results from participants about the program’s effectiveness.