“AspiringDocs” Day to Be Held March 25 on Pittsburgh Campus

Issue Date: 
March 24, 2008

AspiringDocs.org, a pilot program to attract more medical students from underrepresented communities, will hold “AspiringDocs Day” on the University of Pittsburgh’s Oakland campus from 4 to 6 p.m. March 25. The event at the William Pitt Union Assembly Room will give students the opportunity to learn more about careers in medicine from Pitt School of Medicine staff, faculty, and students.

Pitt is one of four universities participating in the AspiringDocs.org campaign, a pilot program of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) designed to attract more diverse physicians who can serve the growing health needs of culturally diverse communities.

U.S. medical schools have a decades-long commitment to building diversity in medicine. But while African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans make up 25 percent of the U.S. population, they account for only 12 percent of U.S. medical school graduates. To complement efforts to increase the number of prospective students, the AspiringDocs.org campaign has taken a new approach to reach an untapped market of potential underrepresented students who may be interested in the field of medicine. AspiringDocs.org provides a comprehensive online resource for students interested in medicine, as well as parents, teachers, and advisers who are critical in guiding students to pursue careers in the medical field.

AspiringDocs.org is a two-year pilot outreach program being conducted at Pitt, Rutgers University, California State University in Fresno, and the University of Arizona. Each school has a large percentage of underrepresented undergraduate biology majors with fewer-than-expected students applying to and attending medical school. At the end of the two-year period, AAMC will use marketing techniques such as benchmark polls, Web tracking, and applicant data analyses to assess whether the campaigns have inspired more students to consider medicine as a career—and helped to increase the number of underrepresented students who apply to and enroll in medical school.

The campaign’s centerpiece is its Web site, containing comprehensive information from the AAMC and other resources about key topics that students deemed important in focus groups. The site also creates a new online community for aspiring doctors where they can ask questions and receive advice from the AAMC, as well as other experts in the undergraduate and medical school community such as financial aid counselors, medical school students, and practicing physicians. Another feature allows students who register for the site to share their opinions and experiences with other students on a variety of issues in the medical field.

In addition to providing extensive online resources, the campaign is designed to inspire students with real-life stories of practicing physicians and medical students from underrepresented populations who overcame challenges and barriers on their road to medical school.

Additional information about the campaign and a full summary of its resources are available at www.AspiringDocs.org.