Video and Gallery: Meet Detroit Teens Preparing for Careers as Doctors

July 17, 2019, 2:20 PM

Starting early shows dedication to goals, as demonstrated by Cass Tech High School students picked for a pipeline to medical school.

In partnership with the University of Michigan, the seven-year-old Doctors of Tomorrow effort is "focused on diversifying the future of health care by exposing underrepresented minority students to careers in medicine, as well as providing them with foundational skills to pursue a career in health sciences," UM posts with the new video above.

Every month, students from Cass Tech visit the University of Michigan to be mentored by medical students. . . . Students learn CPR, automatic defibrillation, laparoscopic surgical skills, the basic elements of surgery and other clinical skills.

Jonathan Finks, a surgeon and associate professor at Michigan Medicine, decided to tackle the question of how health care can be more diverse. He founded the Doctors of Tomorrow program at U-M. . . .

"Programs like this give the students an opportunity to see that they're in charge of their futures," said Velma Snow, assistant principal at Cass Tech.

Thirty-five Cass students are picked to participate each year, starting as freshmen. "It helped me to stay focused and inspired me," says Rico Ozuna-Harrison, now heading to his junior year at UM. He's a 2017 Cass graduate quoted in the recent post by UM medical wrtiter Jina Sawani of Oak Park and summer intern Gelen Korneffel, a Michigan State journalism senior.

"They offered me [an] inside look into the medical school," Fahmida Khatun, another Class of '17 member who's a pre-med student in Ann Arbor, says in the nearly three-minute video.

Dr. Finks, the founder, says: "This program was born out of an observation that there weren’t a lot of people of color in the medical school amongst medical students or practicing physicians at the University of Michigan."

"These kids are willing to go the extra mile. These are the ones who we felt if we were able to shepherd them along and provide them mentorship, guidance and hopefully some financial support, then we could get them to medical school to sort of start a pipeline that begins in high school and follows them all the way to college."

He hopes other medical schools will adapt the model.

"We need to establish these pipeline programs so we can take kids from seventh grade to ninth grade to college to medical school. It's incredibly important."

Photo gallery

These 13 photos show participants at their magnet high school on Second Avenue in Midtown and at UM Medical School:

A Detroit student plays a patient as he and schoolmates learn from Dr. David Hughes, an assistant professor of surgery. (All photos: University of Michigan)

Detroiters pair with UM medical students during a 2019 campus visit.

High schoolers see how robotic surgery tools work. Dr. Jonathan  Fink, program founder, observes.

Cass ninth-graders at physician-shadowing day in Ann Arbor last February.

Practicing clinical skills on a body model.

Two "Doctors of Tomorrow" in a UM lab.

Classmates take turns role-playing care provider and patient.

Dr. David Hughes demonstrates a breathing measurement test on a Cass student last December.

Program participants at the Ann Arbor medical school.

Another group of Cass freshmen on physician-shadowing day five months ago.

Two Cass seniors present "Capstone Project" research findings in May at an annual symposium of educators, parents and medical professionals. Guided by a UM mentor, they surveyed fellow students' mental health status.
(Photo: Eric Bronson of Michigan Medicine)

This past participant (Cass '17) appreciated an "inside look into the medical school" while still in high school.

This Detroiter, also a Cass '17 graduate, recalls gaining career focus and inspiration.


Read more:  University of Michigan

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