Minn. Future Doctors’ first class to begin medical school in fall

The program helps train minority and disadvantaged undergraduates.

by Mukhtar Ibrahim

Thuy Nguyen-Tran and Krista Stowe did not go to the same university nor live in the same city, but they have something in common.
They’re part of the first group of students to be accepted to medical school after completing the Minnesota’s Future Doctors program.
The program targets first-generation college students, people from rural areas, immigrant and minority populations as well as economically disadvantaged students. It consists of three intensive summers of preparation under the guidance of physicians, faculty members and professionals within the healthcare community.
Through the program, both Nguyen-Tran  and Stowe took the Medical College Assessment Test at the same time and were accepted into medical school in the same year.
“I really don’t think I’d be entering medical school this fall without the program,” said Stowe, who recently graduated with a biology degree and chemistry minor from Bemidji State University.
Stowe started the program in the fall of her sophomore year.  In the summer between her sophomore and junior year she, among other things, shadowed doctors at Mayo Clinic  and attended some professionalism  training courses.
She grew up in a predominantly Native-American community and said she strongly relates to the culture and hopes to one day serve that community as a doctor.
Once, before she joined the program, she was shadowing her family doctor in Bemidji and saw one of her doctor’s long-term patients die. The doctor attended the funeral and consoled the family, which inspired her to pursue a career in medicine.
Between her junior and senior year, she started writing her personal statement, prepared for the MCAT — one the most dreaded graduate exams — and filled out applications to medical schools.
Minnesota’s Future Doctors has a contract with the Princeton Review, one of the companies offering MCAT preparation. She said she took great advantage of the free practice exams the company provided.
Stowe was accepted into and will study rural medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Duluth this fall.
“Minnesota’s Future Doctors provided like a road map,” Stowe said. “It really provided guidance and the tools and opportunities that I really need to grow to be a successful applicant to medical school.”
Most participants apply during their first year in college, and must either be a resident of or attend college in Minnesota. The program was started by two former University medical students.
Nguyen-Tran participated in the program for three consecutive summers.
In her studies, she found that Vietnamese women have high rates of cervical cancer — about five times higher than white women — and said it “was something that really was shocking to me, and I wanted to learn about it.”
As a result, she did a community-based research project and found that a many Vietnamese women don’t have information about the disease.
She then started working with “community organizations to help create some bilingual literature and held workshops to help better educate people about cervical cancer.”
Nguyen-Tran said she hopes to become a pediatrician, and will attend the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis in the fall.
Last fall, the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis accepted 169 students, of whom 35 were multicultural students, according to the school’s admissions website.
The University of Minnesota Medical School in Duluth accepted 60 students, of whom six were multicultural students, according to the school’s admissions website.
“Health is really an important underlying factor that affects all aspects of your life,” Nguyen-Tran said.