Mount Sinai’s Icahn School Of Medicine Gets $3.2M For Free Summer Program Aiding Disadvantaged Students

November 28, 2023

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has been awarded a $3.2 million grant to support a free summer program for disadvantaged students interested in a career in medicine.

The Health Resources and Services Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provided the five-year training grant.

Officially known as the Northeast Regional Alliance (NERA) MedPrep, this ambassador program is a partnership between Icahn Mount Sinai, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, and Manhattan-Staten Island Area Health Education Center.

The program serves applicants who are college freshmen and sophomores residing in New York or New Jersey who are interested in attending medical school. MedPrep is a three-year commitment designed to prepare students with key skills and competencies important to success in medical school. Students who enroll in the program receive numerous support services:

  • Participation in programs at the Rutgers, Columbia, and Mount Sinai medical schools.
  • Stipend support
  • MCAT prep
  • Clinical and research experience
  • Academic counseling and mentoring
  • Cultural competency/unconscious bias education  
  • Wellness initiatives

Sherria McDowell, MPH, Director of Special Programs within Icahn Mount Sinai’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion, is program administrator and site director of the program. Gary C. Butts, MD, Executive Vice President and Chief of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Mount Sinai Health System and Dean for Diversity Programs, Policy, and Community Affairs at Icahn Mount Sinai, is Principal Investigator.


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Ms. McDowell says the program has been running since 2018 and the three medical schools have collectively served approximately 1,160 students. In any given summer, the program engages 150 students. 

 “We are beyond thrilled to receive this grant to support our summer programs. Many of our students will be first-generation doctors, who don’t have the coaching and the mentoring that other students might experience from family,” says Ms. McDowell. “The mentoring we provide is ongoing and doesn’t stop when they get accepted to medical school. We keep in touch and we track them to make sure they have all the support they need to succeed.”

“For me, the most significant and profound exposures I’ve had to medicine all trace back to NERA MedPrep and their amazing team. I can only hope that other students are able to have the opportunity to participate in such an amazing program and to be as lucky as I was these past three summers,” says Sara Yousef, who completed the program in March 2023 and matriculated into SUNY Downstate Medical School in August 2023.

Additionally, Ms McDowell says, some of the program graduates have also matched to Icahn Mount Sinai’s residency program after completing medical school. “So the program serves as a critical pathway to diversify our workforce and strengthens our capacity to serve our diverse patient population,” she says.

“The impact of NERA has been extraordinary since our inception in 2018. This reflects the innovative nature of the program, our successes in attracting outstanding participants, and the longstanding commitment and contributions of our partners, our Icahn Mount Sinai team, and our institution,” notes Dr. Butts.

The application season is now open and will continue until Friday, March 1, 2024.

The Mount Sinai Health System

Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, with more than 43,000 employees working across eight hospitals, more than 400 outpatient practices, more than 300 labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time—discovering and applying new scientific learning and knowledge; developing safer, more effective treatments; educating the next generation of medical leaders and innovators; and supporting local communities by delivering high-quality care to all who need it. Through the integration of its hospitals, labs, and schools, Mount Sinai offers comprehensive health care solutions from birth through geriatrics, leveraging innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence and informatics while keeping patients’ medical and emotional needs at the center of all treatment. The Health System includes approximately 7,400 primary and specialty care physicians; 13 joint-venture outpatient surgery centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and more than 30 affiliated community health centers. Hospitals within the System are consistently ranked by Newsweek’s® “The World’s Best Smart Hospitals, Best in State Hospitals, World Best Hospitals and Best Specialty Hospitals” and by U.S. News & World Report‘s® “Best Hospitals” and “Best Children’s Hospitals.” The Mount Sinai Hospital is on the U.S. News & World Report® “Best Hospitals” Honor Roll for 2023-2024.

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