Encouraging 'doctors of tomorrow'

Monday, April 25, 2011

Three medical students from The University of Western Ontario's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry will be conducting an educational outreach program called "Doctors of Tomorrow" at Lord Elgin Public School, 1100 Victoria Drive in London, on Tuesday, April 26 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Andra Nica, Fiona Pinto and Toylin Musewe will be talking to Grade 7 and 8 students about medical school and becoming a doctor. They'll also learn what the classes' perceived challenges to becoming a doctor are. As part of the session, the medical students will be showing students how to make casts on each other and have Dr. Norman Musewe, a paediatric cardiologist, speak about the challenges he faced on the path to becoming a doctor.

"Doctors of Tomorrow" was started by the medical students to provide community-based outreach aimed at increasing representation of disadvantaged students in Canadian medical schools. The program will tackle the issue of lower application rates of students coming from disadvantaged backgrounds by showing students that a career in medicine is accessible to them, and by encouraging them to pursue their dreams. The medical students hope to provide a model of outreach through this pilot program that can be replicated at any medical school in Canada.

Students from disadvantaged backgrounds are under-represented in Canadian medical schools. In 2002, only 15% of medical students came from households making an annual income less than $40,000 even though this income group represented nearly 40% of Canadian households. This issue of under-representation in medical school classes has been identified by the Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS) as an area of concern.

Tuesday's session will consist of an educational component, an activity component, a snack, and a discussion period. The activities will include both general education and medically-related education initiatives. The students will gain knowledge while having fun and have the opportunity to discuss questions they may have regarding medicine and health.

By exposing children to medicine and medical role models at a young age, "Doctors of Tomorrow" hopes to not only affect students who are already high achievers, but also to motivate students who may think that such careers are beyond their reach. This is the first time the program has been held in London.

About Doctors of Tomorrow

Doctors of Tomorrow is a student initiative started by second year medical students at Western's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. In starting the group, Toylin Musewe, Fiona Pinto and Andra Nica are aiming to address some of the barriers students from disadvantaged backgrounds face that prevent them from accessing medical school. The specific barriers that will be addressed through the program have been identified through research. They include lack of role models in medicine, lack of social capital (professional dress, language and behaviour), inaccurate perceptions of a career in medicine, over-estimation of post-secondary education costs, and lack of knowledge of available funding for education. Each session in the program will address one or more of these barriers.

About the Canadian Federation of Medical Students

The Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS) is the representative voice of Canadian medical students to the federal government, to the public, and to the national medical organizations. The group represents over 7000 medical students at 14 Canadian medical schools from coast to coast. It is their mission to provide representation, services and communication between members and to the world at large. They are an ever expanding organization which continually strives to meet the needs of Canadian medical students. Additional information is available at http://www.cfms.org/