Making minority doctors

The Minnesota Future Doctors Program is a praiseworthy one.

Minnesota Future Doctors Program is taking laudable steps to level the playing field of medical school applications for students from specifically targeted groups that are underrepresented in medicine. It is a win-win for both the state and the students. The state gets more doctors from the underrepresented communities, and students — if they work hard — get the opportunity to realize their dreams of becoming doctors, against great odds.

After sending 12 undergraduate students from the state to medical school last year, the program, now in its third year, hopes to admit 41 students in 2011, said Jo Peterson, a program director at the Medical School. We hope those numbers continue to rise.

Culture and communication are profoundly important in medicine. Medical complications are best communicated in one’s own tongue and within a certain cultural context. Yet application to medical school involves a long and complex process. Not everyone is able to obtain the prolonged mentoring and nurturing needed to become strong applicants. Being smart and hardworking alone will not necessarily land one in a white jacket.

Odds are stacked against those who originate from less privileged backgrounds, low income or from families in which parents have not attended college, both in becoming doctors and receiving care from someone they trust. Thus, programs such as MFD are necessary — and the good news is that it has been quite successful so far.