CLEVELAND – Brittany Taylor is working to become a doctor. His goal is to be an orthopedic trauma surgeon.
“I’m a person, but if I could literally change the whole world right now, seriously I would and everyone who knows me knows I’m taking a lot of steps to get there,” said Taylor, a post-bachelor. . student at Cleveland State University.
But her journey to where she is now has not been easy. She is one of seven children and became a mother at the age of 16. She knows what it’s like to struggle to make ends meet. She joined the Navy in 2015 and was sent to incredibly poor communities around the world. It was in this context that his passion for equitable healthcare began.
“While I might not be from a third world country, it’s really no different from the underserved communities I come from. I want to help make sure that everyone has access and that everyone can get the same type of care everywhere, ”Taylor said. “Every time you get out of the situation, which is extremely difficult to overcome, how do you not go back and contribute to what, whether it is holding you back or motivating and boosting me? I just don’t see how I couldn’t go back and continue to contribute in a big way when I’m in a position to do so. “
She moved to Cleveland for a reason: to take the Pathways to Practice program at Cleveland State University. In partnership with Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), the program helps underrepresented minority students enroll in medical school. Minority groups under-represented in medicine currently include students who identify as African American and / or Black, Hispanic / Latino, Native American (Native American, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian), Pacific Islander, and mainland Puerto Ricans.
The definition also refers to students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Through tutoring, MCAT preparation, and individual student counseling, the program prepares these students to excel in medical school. It’s a two-year program for undergraduate or post-baccalaureate students, like Taylor, who want to serve in urban communities when they become doctors.
“If you really want to help people, that means helping everyone,” Taylor said. “Everyone has different needs. Everyone has different health problems. And instead of just taking the average community you’ve already focused on, we’re going to focus on those that may not have been in the spotlight in the past.
The Pathways to Practice program offers four pathways to medical school for students who have a passion for serving urban communities.
Lena Grafton is a faculty member of the program.
“I believe my role here is important,” said Grafton. “The goal of the Pathways to Practice program is to develop the next generation of physicians, and they are physicians who have a cultural humility, who care about the whole person, thus treating the whole patient, not just the patient. state. “
Grafton helps his students understand the root causes of health disparities so they can address and eventually eliminate them.
“We know that people of color are too burdened with disease and die sooner than their white counterparts. And for me that’s a problem, ”Grafton said.
By 2050, it is predicted that more than 50% of the U.S. population will identify as a person of color, according to the US Census Bureau.
Currently, the medical workforce does not represent the changing demographics of the American population. Almost 60 percent of the active medical workforce is white, only about 5 percent is black.
“When patients are looking for doctors they trust, they are looking for doctors who represent them or who represent their culture,” said Grafton. “Typically those who graduate from medical school and practice medicine, some of them come back to underserved communities, but they don’t have the background or the background to understand the root causes of equity disparities. in health and of course, the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion that are necessary to combat and eliminate systemic racism.
“I want to end up going to an injury center,” Taylor said. “So I need to know demographically the people that I’m obviously going to serve. So while you can’t learn everything in medical school, I think if someone is suitable and wants to go and work in medical school. specific communities, that maybe they should go to a school that encompasses that so that you learn a little bit as well, which we do in this program. ”
Grafton said it’s also important for doctors to understand the challenges patients in underserved communities face that go beyond their physical health.
“Maybe it’s transportation to the clinic, or maybe it’s prescription access to make sure they can have the medications they need to treat their illness.” , said Grafton. “So it’s really about having this comprehensive physician who understands this evolving population of our country and who is able to meet those needs.”
There are a limited number of programs, like the Pathways to Practice Program at Cleveland State University in the United States, according to Grafton, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. That’s why she strives to address health disparities by graduating from a future doctor, like Taylor, at once.
“I have a family member who, my grandmother, died long before the time of its preventable illness. And so, if there’s anything I can do for future doctors to make sure someone else doesn’t lose a loved one before it’s time, then it’s what I’m aiming to do, ”Grafton said.
“If I can make a change in one way or another, I might not change the world, but I can change little by little and hopefully inspire others to do the same and maybe be throwing a wave, ”Taylor said.
CSU seeks to partner with other medical schools, such as NEOMED, which have a similar mission.
The application portal for the two Early Assurance Pathways is open. The deadline to apply has been extended until Friday, December 3, 2021. Applications for Berkman / Jackson Fellow are accepted on an ongoing basis.
For more information on the Pathways to Practice program and if you are eligible to apply, visit here.