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University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Joins Campaign to Diversify the Face of Medicine

PITTSBURGH, March 12, 2008 —The University of Pittsburgh is one of four universities participating in the AspiringDocs.org campaign, a pilot program of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) designed to attract more diverse physicians who can serve the growing health needs of culturally diverse communities.

U.S. medical schools have a decades-long commitment to building diversity in medicine. To complement efforts to increase the amount of prospective students, the AspiringDocs.org campaign has taken a new approach to reach an untapped market of potential minority students who may be interested in the field of medicine. AspiringDocs provides a comprehensive online resource for students interested in medicine, as well as parents, teachers and advisers who are critical in guiding students to pursue careers in the medical field.

While African-Americans, Latinos and Native Americans make up 25 percent of the population, they account for only 12 percent of U.S. medical school graduates. Participation in AspiringDocs gives the University of Pittsburgh an opportunity to mobilize campus resources to pursue the goal of serving the needs of diverse communities.

This two-year pilot outreach program is being conducted at the University of Pittsburgh, Rutgers University, California State University in Fresno and the University of Arizona. Each school has a large percentage of underrepresented undergraduate biology majors with fewer than expected students applying for and attending medical school. At the end of the two-year period, the AAMC will use marketing techniques such as benchmark polls, web tracking and applicant data analyses to assess how the campaigns have inspired more students to consider medicine as a career and helped increase the number of minority students who apply to and enroll in medical school.

The campaign’s centerpiece is the Web site, containing comprehensive information from the AAMC and other resources about key topics that students deemed important in focus groups. The site also creates a new online community for aspiring doctors where they can ask questions and receive advice from the AAMC and other experts in the undergraduate and medical school community, such as pre-health advisers, financial aid counselors, medical school students and practicing physicians. Another feature allows students who register for the site to share their opinions and experiences with other students on a variety of current issues in the medical field.

In addition to providing extensive online resources, the campaign is designed to inspire students with real-life stories of practicing minority physicians and medical students who overcame a variety of challenges and barriers on their road to medical school.

Tuesday, March 25, will be “AspiringDocs Day” at the University of Pittsburgh. From 4 to 6 p.m., interested students can come to the William Pitt Union Assembly Room to learn more about careers in medicine from School of Medicine staff, faculty and students. Questions about AspiringDocs Day can be directed to Paula Davis, M.A., assistant vice chancellor for diversity for the Schools of the Health Sciences, at 412-648-2066 or pdavis@hs.pitt.edu.

For additional information about the campaign and a full summary of its resources, visit www.aspiringdocs.org.

The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is one of the nation’s leading medical schools, renowned for its curriculum that emphasizes both the science and humanity of medicine and its remarkable growth in National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant support, which has more than doubled since 1998. For fiscal year 2006, the University ranked sixth out of more than 3,000 entities receiving NIH support with respect to the research grants awarded to its faculty. The majority of these grants were awarded to the faculty of the medical school. As one of the university’s six Schools of the Health Sciences, the School of Medicine is the academic partner to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Their combined mission is to train tomorrow’s health care specialists and biomedical scientists, engage in groundbreaking research that will advance understanding of the causes and treatments of disease and participate in the delivery of outstanding patient care.

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