Census regions and divisions of theUnited States
- U. S. Census
- Available at: https://www2.census.gov/geo/pdfs…
PROBLEM Minorities continue to be underrepresented as physicians in medicine, and the United States currently has a number of medically underserved communities. MEDPREP, a postbaccalaureate medical school preparatory program for socioeconomically disadvantaged or underrepresented in medicine students, has a stated mission to increase the numbers of physicians from minority or disadvantaged backgrounds and physicians working with underserved populations. This study aims to determine how MEDPREP enhances U.S. physician diversity and practice within underserved communities. INTERVENTION MEDPREP recruits disadvantaged and underrepresented in medicine students to complete a 2-year academic enhancement program that includes science coursework, standardized test preparation, study/time management training, and emphasis on professional development. Five hundred twenty-five disadvantaged or underrepresented students over 15 years completed MEDPREP and were tracked through entry into medical practice. CONTEXT MEDPREP accepts up to 36 students per year, with two thirds coming from the Midwest region and another 20% from nearby states in the South. Students complete science, test preparation, academic enhancement, and professionalism coursework taught predominantly by MEDPREP faculty on the Southern Illinois University Carbondale campus. Students apply broadly to medical schools in the region and nation but are also offered direct entry into our School of Medicine upon meeting articulation program requirements. OUTCOME Seventy-nine percent of students completing MEDPREP became practicing physicians. Fifty-eight percent attended public medical schools, and 62% attended medical schools in the Midwest. Fifty-three percent of program alumni chose primary care specialties compared to 34% of U.S. physicians, and MEDPREP alumni were 2.7 times more likely to work in medically underserved areas than physicians nationally. LESSONS LEARNED MEDPREP increases the number of disadvantaged and underrepresented students entering and graduating from medical school, choosing primary care specialties, and working in medically underserved areas. MEDPREP may therefore serve as a model for increasing physician diversity and addressing the needs of medically underserved communities.