Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine Harlem has received the 2019 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion-focused publication in higher education. As a recipient of the STEM Award, TouroCOM, will be featured in the September 2019 issue of the magazine.
Award winners are selected for their efforts to inspire and encourage young people to consider careers in STEM through mentoring teaching, research, and successful programs and initiatives.
TouroCOM is being recognized for its highly successful two-year MedAchieve Scholars afterschool enrichment program that serves local high school students interested in pursuing medicine or other health science careers. The students meet regularly throughout the academic year for lectures and labs. They are mentored by TouroCOM medical students, who teach them the foundations of medicine and how the body responds to stress, injury, and disease.
MedAchieve also encourages any future physicians to aspire to work in their local communities where there are physician shortages. Most of the MedAchieve Scholars are underrepresented minorities from high schools in Harlem. If the students meet certain criteria after graduating from college, they are guaranteed a medical school interview at TouroCOM.
“We know that many STEM programs are not always recognized for their success dedication and mentorship for underrepresented students,” said Lenore Pearlstein, owner and publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity. “We want to honor the schools and organizations that have created programs that inspire and encourage young people who may currently be in or are interested in a future career in STEM. We are proud to honor these programs as role models to other institutions of higher education and beyond.”
Aligned with Mission
Said TouroCOM Dean David Forstein, DO, “TouroCOM Harlem was founded with a mission to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in medicine. We are very proud of MedAchieve and how it helps fill the pipeline of minority students who wish to practice medicine. If this program stimulates them towards health sciences or provides the boosts needed to build confidence that they can do it, we will have served these high schools well.”
The first year of the program, “MedStart”, introduces various subjects in basic medical science and illustrates their relevance to clinical medicine. The second year, “MedExcel”, emphasizes organ systems and the common diseases that affect them. In 2019, TouroCOM Harlem graduated 71 high school students from “MedExcel”.
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“I loved MedAchieve and I feel that high school students should definitely try to do it,” said Kayla Simpson, who completed the program in the spring, “I came to MedAchieve because I wanted to get a glimpse of what medical school would be like and test the waters a little bit.” Simpson attended University Heights High School in the South Bronx and is headed to Howard University this fall, after which she hopes to become a cardiac surgeon.
“MedAchieve is successful because of the energy, enthusiasm and creativity that is poured into it,” said Dean of Student Affairs and Assistant Professor Nadege Dady, Ed.D, who said she is impressed with the high school students’ commitment and the TouroCOM mentors. “It is a labor of love that will benefit all the participants for years to come, while continuing to enrich our relationships with the Harlem community.”
The STEM award marks the second time TouroCOM has been recognized by the magazine for its achievements in diversity. In 2016, the school received the publication’s Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award, a national honor recognizing U.S. medical and other schools in the health professions that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.
“The future of medical education lies within its expansion, opening its scope to passionate potential medical students as early as possible,” said Nicholas Ingram, OMS-III at TouroCOM and a former MedAchieve director and mentor. Citing recent data from the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, Ingram said the numbers of underrepresented minorities in medicine are “slowly improving” but more effort is needed to encourage and prepare this group of future physicians. “This is especially important for students who are underrepresented minorities or from medically underserved communities, as the opportunity to explore the field may be limited.”
Touro is a system of non-profit institutions of higher and professional education. Touro College was chartered in 1970 primarily to enrich the Jewish heritage, and to serve the larger American and global community. Approximately 19,200 students are currently enrolled in its various schools and divisions. Touro College has 30 campuses and locations in New York, California, Nevada, Berlin, Jerusalem and Moscow. New York Medical College; Touro University California and Touro University Nevada; Touro University Worldwide and its Touro College Los Angeles division; as well as Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Ill. are separately accredited institutions within the Touro College and University System. For further information on Touro College, please go to www.touro.edu/news