Physician diversity in Medicine: New class of Sophie Davis Biomedical Program/CUNY School of Medicine visits Harlem hospital

NYC Health + Hospitals on August 11, 2023 announced that as part of its Medical Opportunities for Students and Aspiring Inclusive Clinicians (MOSAIC) program, 94 rising college students accepted in the BS/MD program at the Sophie Davis Biomedical Education Program/CUNY School of Medicine (CUNY Med) visited NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem to meet with health system leaders, attend two lectures, and receive a tour of the hospital. The students received an introduction to the social determinants of health and the history of health disparities, which was followed by a hospital tour of several units, including pediatrics, hemodialysis, labor and delivery, and in-patient medicine. MOSAIC is designed to create a pathway for students and early doctors who are under-represented in medicine to help them succeed in medical school and increase physician diversity across the health system. CUNY Med’s novel BS/MD program allows students to complete their undergraduate and medical school in seven years, compared to traditional programs that take eight years. The Sophie Davis Biomedical Education Program/CUNY School of Medicine pre-matriculation program for entering students is six weeks long. It provides a pre-medical curriculum and foundation of the school’s mission to address healthcare inequities in New York City and beyond; increase diversity and representation in medicine; and promote inclusive excellence in medicine. 


“I’m truly excited about the NYC Health + Hospitals collaboration with CUNY,” said Machelle Allen, MD, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, NYC Health + Hospitals. “I grew up in Harlem at the time when the uptown CUNY campus was ‘City College New York’ (CCNY), also known as the ‘Harvard of the Proletariat’ or the ‘Harvard on the Hudson.’ As a 4-year-old I had a CCNY stuffed animal sporting the ‘CCNY’ lavender letters on a cute little black cap – the school colors being black and lavender. My relationship to CCNY continued in 1963 when I had the privilege of attending the legendary Andre Watt’s piano concert performed with conductor Seiji Ozawa at CCNY’s outdoor Lewisohn Stadium. CCNY’s luminous alums include Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger, Jonas Salk, Jean Tomer, to name a few. While I cannot say I am among that storied group – I was quite proud of my acceptance letter from CCNY. Today, it gives me personal and professional great joy and pride to see this formal collaboration between the city’s public hospital system and the city’s public institution of higher learning.” 


“NYC Health + Hospitals and the CUNY School of Medicine are two institutions that are making a difference in the composition of our physician workforce,” said Donnie Bell, MD, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, NYC Health + Hospitals. “An introduction to the clinical environment, coupled with foundational learning about the social forces that shape the patient experience, will help these future doctors gain the perspective necessary for practicing medicine in high need areas.” 


“We are excited that Sophie Davis Biomedical Education Program/CUNY School of Medicine’s newest entering class of undergraduates are participating in today’s MOSAIC program and partnership with NYC Health & Hospitals and Harlem Hospital,” said Carmen Renée Green, MD, Dean, CUNY School of Medicine. “Most of our students, who were in high school in New York a few weeks ago, are diving into our novel accelerated pre-medical curriculum and learning about the social determinants of health and the importance of equity, access, and advocacy in health and healthcare. NYC needs doctors and The CUNY School of Medicine is creating the doctors New Yorkers want to see. Our first-year Pre-Med students (the MD Class of 2030) proudly demonstrate how CUNY Med is changing the face and future of medicine one student and one doctor at a time.” 


NYC Health + Hospital’s Vice President for Population Health Dr. Nichola Davis introduced the students to the social determinants of health. These are conditions that can influence a person’s health, which concentrate on where they grew up, live, work, among other factors that can affect health, function, and quality-of-life. NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem’s Dr. Joan Culpepper-Morgan, Chief of Gastroenterology, spoke about the history of health disparities in New York City and the U.S. 


MOSAIC includes programs to train and hire future and existing doctors: 


Visiting Scholars Program: Medical students will spend four to six weeks in clinical rotations, simulation and experiential training to refine their professional development skills, gain clinical exposure, and strengthen their commitment to serving vulnerable populations. Visiting Scholars will receive either a $2,000 or $3,000 stipend (for a four- or six-week rotation) and a $2,000 housing allowance for scholars visiting from outside the NYC metro area. MOSAIC will fund up to 20 scholars in the first year of the program and up to 30 scholars per year in subsequent years. Medical students can apply here. 


Youth training: 

  • MOSAIC will partner with Mentoring in Medicine to provide underserved middle and high school students with training, mentorship, and Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) preparation to help expand the pool of students interested in going into careers in medicine. 

  • MOSAIC will partner with East Side House to help at-risk 16- to 24-year-old students train for careers in healthcare, including as a pharmacy technician, phlebotomist, home health aide, or nursing assistant.  


Recruitment: MOSAIC will create targeted recruitment and retention programs for attendings from groups under-represented in medicine to grow the diversity of NYC Health + Hospitals’ physician workforce. 

Image courtesy of NYC Health + Hospitals

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