pipeline program; populations underrepresented in medicine; diverse workforce; medical student leadership


Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Medical Education | Medicine and Health Sciences


Despite the growing diversity of the United States population, individuals from many racial and ethnic minority groups and low-income families continue to be underrepresented in the health professions. A diverse healthcare workforce would improve cultural competency and create a system better suited to address the vast health disparities in many disadvantaged communities, yet the current educational pipeline needs to expand opportunities to provide students traditionally underrepresented in medicine (UIM) a path to become a part of the healthcare field. The Propelling Adolescents Towards Careers in Healthcare (PATCH) program was founded to address this gap in the current health professions pipeline to ensure that UIM and economically disadvantaged students in Charlotte, North Carolina have an equal opportunity to pursue a career in healthcare. The PATCH program brings high schoolers from local low-income schools to the hospital every Saturday for 8 weeks, where medical student leaders plan and execute hands-on clinical training activities, simulation experiences, shadowing, one-on-one mentorship, and public health research projects for the scholars. 123 PATCH scholars have completed the program since its inception in 2015, and the overwhelming majority of those surveyed after the program indicated that they planned to attend health professional school and later return to their communities to improve the opportunities and resources there to promote good health. Through the program, the scholars are exposed to medical professions in a way that will not only benefit their career trajectories but ultimately increase the diversity of the healthcare workforce and reduce health disparities of future populations.