Increasing the number of minority physicians in Cincinnati just got another boost: the Doctors Foundation
has awarded a $50,000 grant to the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine and Cincinnati Children’s to strengthen efforts to recruit minority medical residents. It’s the second year the organization has thrown its support behind this effort.
Medical students upon graduation often complete residency training programs that range from three to seven years depending on the specialty. The Association of American Medical Colleges reports that 68 percent of physicians who complete all their training in one state end up practicing there. Bringing more minority residents to Ohio may benefit Cincinnati in the long run.
"Our hope is that our resident and faculty physician community at UC and Children’s will mirror the growing diverse patient population we serve in Greater Cincinnati,” says Mia Mallory, MD, associate dean for diversity and inclusion in the College of Medicine and pediatrician at Cincinnati Children’s. "At the medical school our first-year class is 20 percent diverse and almost mirrors the diverse population of Hamilton County; it would be great if we could have the same with our resident population.”
The grant helped fund a Second Look program designed to increase the number of talented minority residents at UC and Cincinnati Children’s, says Mallory. "The program is designed to showcase our outstanding residency programs, our city and our diverse community of residents and faculty. We had great success with our diversity interview day recruitment programs in the College of Medicine and the Second Look event builds upon that success.”
During Second Look, prospective residents had a chance to meet with diverse residents, fellow and faculty at several events throughout the weekend, says Mallory. "They learned about the community engagement and health disparities grass roots efforts they can join if they choose UC. We explored Cincinnati by chartered bus so they could see our great city and potential neighborhoods they can call home.”
Funding for the grant is also being used to continue support for a month-long visiting clerkship in Cincinnati for fourth-year minority medical students who might be interested in doing their residency in a specialty at either UC or Children’s, says Mallory. Travel for the students is covered courtesy of the Doctors Foundation grant and during the fall 11 medical students from across the country participated.
Third-year residents, Jensine’ Norman, MD, and Joi Moore, MD, founded the Minority Housestaff Association, an organization started as a result of the Doctors Foundation grant, with the goal of supporting networking and career development for minority residents at UC and Children’s.
Moore, a categorical resident in psychiatry, says health systems benefit when they can be more reflective of the community they serve.
"A strong effort to increase underrepresented minorities will help enhance the care we provide to our patients and likely improve quality measures such as compliance and patient satisfaction,” says Moore. "It will also promote cultural competency and awareness for our colleagues. We will be in positions to answer the difficult questions about hair, skin, religion, and other sensitive discrepancies that can become barriers within the therapeutic relationship.”
Norman, a resident in physical medicine and rehabilitation, says networking and finding ways to build ties with the Cincinnati community is important in attracting and retaining minority residents who may someday decide to build their practice locally.
"The work that the Office of Diversity and Inclusion is doing is monumental,” says Norman. "As a minority resident who moved to Cincinnati to train, I felt very isolated and the adjustment was tough. The work that the office is doing is collaborative to help minority trainees develop both clinically, socially and professionally in a supportive environment.
"The program seeks to provide professional development opportunities and mentorship across various training levels for medical students, residents and fellows that are very impactful,” says Norman. "They help remind you why you chose medicine and how you can have a positive impact on your community. Most residency programs don't have a well-established program and prior to this grant, we did not either. This program is helping to provide and develop a culturally-competent environment. Training in such an environment enriches the experience and improves patient care and outcomes.”
Both Norman and Moore agree that resident well-being also benefits from additional support.
"Currently, underrepresented minority residents at UC Health make up less than 10 percent of the total number of residents,” says Moore. "When you combine that with our schedules and the number of hours we work daily, it can be fairly challenging navigating a system where you are in a new city, working the wards, and attempting to maintain some degree of wellness concurrently. At a minimum, increasing the underrepresented resident numbers will increase social support and help to promote resident emotional health.”
Moore says she’s seen an increase in the number of prospective minority residents since the Second Look program was implemented two years ago. Norman says she thinks the region will see more benefits as minority physicians—both attending and residents—increase in numbers.
"Having a diverse health care workforce is more impactful than just having providers who look like the community they serve,” says Norman. "They are able to reach people who may have a complicated background with low health literacy which causes health care not to be a priority in their life.
"Their economic and social factors worsen their health status and cause them to be less likely to seek care, making them most vulnerable,” says Norman. "These vulnerable populations need providers who are sensitive to the complex milieu that is their everyday life. The health disparities that they face are shaped by social, economic and political climates that are often outside of the control of the patient. They need advocates who will continue to keep their best interest in mind and help them regain control of their health.”