Encouraging diversity in medicine

13 November 2020
Inspiring underrepresented students to consider a career in medicine

To help eliminate health disparities in minority communities, Ochsner Health has developed a mentoring program to inspire underrepresented students to consider a career in medicine.

OPTIMUS is the Ochsner Program To Introduce Medicine to Underrepresented Students. It provides education about career options in medicine, hands-on simulations and experiments as well as tips on preparing for a medical career.

Dr Tamika Webb-Detiege, Deputy Head of Admissions and Enrollment at The University of Queensland Ochsner Medical Program explains that the goal of OPTIMUS is to increase diversity in medicine relative to the diversity in the general population.

“I am incredibly proud to be involved in the program, as are all the other Ochsner mentors, who are also from underrepresented backgrounds,” Dr Webb-Detiege said.

The first OPTIMUS events were held in the Fall of 2019.

“It involved discussing germs and performing an experiment to illustrate their transmission with over 400 elementary school students,” Dr Webb-Detiege said.

“We plan to work with students at all levels: elementary school, high school and undergraduate.”

The undergraduate arm of OPTIMUS was initiated in October with twenty-six college students from eight universities and colleges in the Gulf South visited the Ochsner Clinical School.

Students were exposed to hands-on simulations including birthing, suturing, administering injections and CPR training.

They also had a presentation of best practices for medical school interviews, and a panel discussion with physicians and current medical students.

“The day was both fun and informative,” Dr Webb-Detiege said.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to for the students to experience life as a doctor through simulation but also for us to share some insight on how to make their dream of a career in medicine a reality.”