M.D./Ph.D. students promote representation with physician scientist event
Published on Monday, February 17, 2020
By: Karen Bascom
Some students think they need to choose between being a doctor or a scientist. But there is a third option: Why not both?
The University of Mississippi Medical Center and the American Physician Scientists Association are hosting a Physician Scientist Interest Day for underrepresented students Saturday, February 29 from noon-5 p.m. at the School of Medicine.
The APSA is a national student-led group dedicated to improving educational opportunities, advancing patient-oriented research and advocating for the future of translational medicine.
“There is a nationwide push for maintaining diversity in the physician-scientist training pipeline from the training stage to faculty,” said Meredith Cobb, an M.D.-Ph.D. student at UMMC and one of the event’s organizers. “We are here to raise awareness about this career path, answering questions about what it means to be a physician scientist and how to navigate the training process.”
Physician Scientists are doctors who also conduct research. The two fields require different types of training. Dual doctoral programs, such as UMMC’s M.D.-Ph.D. program, are the primary training pathways for physician scientists. Other UMMC programs, such as the Master of Science in Clinical Investigation and Medical Student Research Program provide other ways for physicians and physicians-in-training to learn how of conduct biomedical research.
Physician Scientist Interest Day is targeted for undergraduate students who identify with one or more of the following groups, considered underrepresented in the biomedical sciences:
- Black, Hispanic/Latino, Native American or Pacific Islander
- People with disabilities
More than half of UMMC’s current M.D.-Ph.D. students identify with one of these groups.
Creating a diverse classroom and workforce encourages diversity of thought, Cobb said.
“Everyone comes with a different perspective,” she said. “When it comes to treating a patient or solving a scientific problem, you don’t want everyone looking at it from one angle.”
Interest day will feature School of Medicine tours, research presentations from current students, small-group information sessions and an overview of the UMMC admissions process.
“We also wanted to bring in students and faculty who can talk about their experiences at UMMC as physician scientists and who can talk about the resources that are available here to support students from underrepresented groups,” Cobb said.
Dr. Loretta Jackson-Williams, vice dean for medical education at UMMC, will deliver the keynote address. An M.D.-Ph.D. graduate of Boston University, Jackson-Williams said it is important for current physician scientists to encourage students who are interested in this career path.
“Mentorship allows students to see how this cross-preparation significantly contributes to their daily work,” she said. “It’s also important to talk with students about the length of the [training] process so they view it as a development journey.”
Cobb said that the School of Medicine, the School of Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion have all been “incredibly supportive” of the event, providing space, funding and door prizes for students, including MCAT and GRE test preparation materials.
More than 100 students from colleges in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Arkansas have registered for Interest Day.
To learn about UMMC’s M.D./Ph.D. program from its students and alumni, click here.