Programs offer mentorship and resources to increase access and representation.
Luckson Omoaregba, MS, stepped into a newly created role at the Medical School to address a great frustration for him.
The inaugural director of pipeline programs says he has been considerably bothered “seeing [marginalized youth]with talent, seeing people with the energy and the personality and the drive and the light to do amazing things … not having the resources to do [them], not having the support system or programs available.”
Brown’s pathway programs remove this barrier by preparing students from groups traditionally underrepresented in medicine (UiM) for a future in health care and connecting them with experts in the field. Since Omoaregba’s appointment in December, he has been working to strengthen these initiatives and will evaluate their long-term success, stressing the importance of their sustainability and positive impact on students’ lives.
The new director position is meant to show commitment and dedication to “creating opportunities, pathways for students to have more access to” the health care profession and furthering representation in the field, says Rosedelma Seraphin, MA, assistant director of the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs.
As an immigrant from Nigeria, Omoaregba understands the challenges UiM students encounter and the importance of access programs and mentors to “even the playing field” for those who are underrepresented, who include low-income and first-generation students. “Representation is huge,” he says.
Omoaregba studied communication at the University of Rhode Island with the ultimate goal of working in higher education. His belief that health is a key to education led him to the Medical School.
Through pathway programs, Omoaregba says, “we want to be a touchpoint [for students], to be that transformative experience” in which they envision themselves in medicine.
For one such initiative, piloted last summer, ODMA leaders hope to incorporate shadowing into and beyond their Month of Medical School, in which premed students take courses that replicate the medical curriculum, receive mentorship, and get advice on the application process, Seraphin says.
To measure program efficacy, Omoaregba considers their ability to excite students and shape their perspectives. “Real access is allowing folks to be able to explore what they feel passionate about,” he says.
Seraphin hopes the pathway programs can eliminate disparities, writing in an email that “increased representation improves the learning environment within medical education and ultimately the quality of care that patients from underrepresented populations receive.”
“This work is going to take some time,” Omoaregba says, but “the quality really, really matters.”