Volume 6-Winter 1999
Visiting Clerkship Program
According to Dr. Joan Reede, Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Diversity and Director of the Minority Faculty Development Program, VCP seeks, "to increase medical student awareness of opportunities in academic medicine; increase student consideration of academic training programs for internship and residency and, especially, to increase the number of underrepresented minority students applying to HMS-affiliated hospital training programs. Historically, approximately 10% of VCP participants have matched for their internship and/or residencies at HMS-affiliated hospitals."
Student Opinions About VCP
To make each student feel welcome in their clerkship, each student is assigned to a faculty advisor who is their mentor for that month. Rhonda Hamilton, an African-American student from Tufts Medical School, currently on an elective in Primary Care Medicine at Cambridge Hospital, says, "The mentoring provided by VCP is essential. Otherwise, I would have felt in the way. My mentor (Dr. Steffie Woolhandler) helped to integrate me and made me feel part of the process."
Students also meet with HMS faculty, housestaff and other students. They attend HMS and hospital seminars and workshops, and have access to the Countway Medical Library. A dinner for minority faculty and students is held during each rotation.
Erick Javier Velez came from the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine in November of 1992 to do an anesthesia and respiratory therapy clerkship at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH). He knew nothing about the BWH before he came. On arrival he met with his mentor (Dr. Mercedes Conception) who introduced him to the field and to colleagues. Velez says, "I was coming from a different culture and had to learn how things are done here. I had to prove myself because there's a lot of prejudice about Hispanics in general. I had to remind people that I trained in the U.S. and under the same standards as everyone else." According to Velez, "VCP gave me a chance to prove myself and I could not have afforded to come here for an interview otherwise." And doing a clerkship at the BWH "opened doors" for Velez who has just completed a residency in Anesthesia at BWH.
For Rhonda Hamilton, her time at Cambridge Hospital solidified her desire to become a PCP like her mentor. "I was interested in primary care, public health and inner city medicine. My time in the VCP program was essential in showing me how to bring these interests together."