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Editorial Cartoon: Peace in Gaza
Editorial Cartoon: Peace in Gaza
Published April 19, 2024

New program preps future doctors

Minnesota Future Doctors is a program aimed at minority students.

Dame Idossa knows the struggles of medical care in developing countries.

The first-year biochemistry student said the tension and unstable government of her native country, Ethiopia, causes dismal access to health care.

“There is one doctor to thousands of people,” she said. “We have a lot of people dying from preventable diseases. It’s really saddening.”

Idossa’s one of the 27 students accepted into this year’s Minnesota’s Future Doctors program.

The two-year-old program was developed by two past University medical students to encourage more minorities, including those who were in foster care and refugee camps in war-torn countries, and others who’ve experienced homelessness, to enter the medical field.

Idossa said she hopes to go to medical school and help those without adequate health care around the world get the care they need.

Of the 945 students enrolled in the University’s medical schools in Duluth and the Twin Cities, 182 are students of color, according to the Academic Health Center.

Underserved and diverse communities in Minnesota were inspiration to launch the program, program director Jo Peterson said.

She added that students’ experiences were a factor in their selection.

“A number of students come from foster care – a lot of young people who have been through war situations and then had to relocate to the United States as very young children,” she said.

The privately funded program accepted students from colleges and universities across the state and costs $500,000 a year to run.

Lucas Reece, a Guyanese University student selected to the three-summer program, said the patient-doctor ratio is generally unbalanced and he hopes to change that.

“There are more ethnic patients than ethnic doctors,” he said.

Reece’s experience as a camp counselor in urban Philadelphia last summer inspired him to continue working with inner-city communities after graduating medical school.

“The diversity of (doctors) should reflect the population,” he said. “Otherwise, you start to see a specific image of how a doctor should look.”

Those who applied for the program needed to be undergraduate first-year students with an interest in science and medicine.

The program takes place at both the University’s Medical School and the Mayo medical school in Rochester.

Students will shadow doctors, visit hospitals and clinics, research case studies and do community service.

Peterson said she hopes half the students attend medical school, but encourages them to pursue careers of their choice.

“If they found something else through their travels that they’re more interested in,” she said, “I want them to pursue that.”

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