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All Americans should be terrified of what’s about to happen in health care. The same radical woke activists who’ve corrupted K-12 education and public safety are about to force every medical student to learn and practice divisive, discriminatory and downright dangerous things. What happens in medical school will ultimately corrupt all of health care, and as a longtime medical educator, I’m calling on policymakers to fight back.
The looming threat comes courtesy of the Association of American Medical Colleges. The AAMC, which administers the Medical College Admission Test, represents 171 US and Canadian medical schools along with more than 400 teaching hospitals and health systems. One of its key roles is developing standards for the subjects and concepts medical students must learn. And what, you ask, are the latest requirements? You guessed it: diversity, equity and inclusion.
Rolled out in mid-July, these new standards are overtly ideological. They will train medical students for political activism as much as medical care. Don’t take my word for it: When announcing the standards, the AAMC’s president and chair of its council of deans declared that woke identity politics “deserves just as much attention from learners and educators at every stage of their careers as the latest scientific breakthroughs.”
These standards have radical expectations for what medical-school graduates, residency graduates and faculty physician teachers must know and do. For instance, med-school grads must be fully versed in so-called “intersectionality.” This includes “demonstrat[ing] evidence of self-reflection and how one’s personal identities, biases, and lived experience” influence clinical practice, as well as identifying a “patient’s multiple identities and how each may result in varied and multiple forms of oppression.”
Oppression is a consistent theme. Graduates must describe “the impact of various systems of oppression on health and healthcare,” including “colonialism, White Supremacy, acculturation, [and] assimilation.” They must also identify “systems of power, privilege and oppression,” including “white privilege, racism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, [and] religious oppression.” Once graduates identify the oppressed, they are expected to practice “allyship,” which is defined as “recogniz[ing] their privilege” and “work[ing] in solidarity with oppressed groups in the struggle for justice.”
Elsewhere, the standards declare that graduates must “articulate race as a social construct that is a cause of health and health care inequities.” And they must look beyond health care itself to “identify and address social risk factors,” like “food security, housing, utilities, [and] transportation.” Translation: Medical students will be expected to advocate political causes that have nothing to do with treating patients.
The expectations for residency graduates and training physicians expand on these divisive themes. The former must translate concepts like “anti-racism” into clinical practice, which means discriminating on the basis of race, either by providing different levels of access to or levels of care. The latter must be “role models” for med students, showing them how to “engage with systems to disrupt oppressive practices.” At every level of medical education, there will be no escape from the brainwashing.
I cannot overstate the danger. (And I can also attest, sadly, that medical schools are already teaching many of these dangerous concepts.) As I know firsthand, it’s a struggle to help medical students learn everything they need to succeed as physicians in the care of increasingly complex and sick patients. The courses that schools will design under these standards will eat up the valuable time that students should spend on actual science and hands-on practice. And the real-world harm will be severe.
Imagine future physicians lecturing patients about their privilege, failing to adequately manage immediate medical needs due to distraction with social issues like housing and employment and delaying (or even denying) care for patients of certain skin colors in the name of “equity.” The standards will create physicians who are less prepared for clinical practice and more likely to discriminate in their daily work, ultimately leading to worse care for all patients and less public trust in this essential and lifesaving field.
The woke conquest of health care is nearly complete. Once these principles are implemented, through accreditation standards or postgraduate testing, they will be nearly impossible to roll back. But that’s the point: The activist crowd has worked hard to capture the commanding heights of medical education because it determines the future of health care.
The only recourse I see is for state leaders to prevent the standards’ implementation or medical schools’ teaching of the underlying concepts. Boards of regents should intervene, lawmakers should limit funding or outright prohibit such indoctrination, and governors and attorneys general should take steps to protect students. The medical establishment itself is driving health care’s politicized decline, so someone else will have to save it.
Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, a former associate dean of curriculum at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, is chairman of Do No Harm.
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“We all want the best for our students when it comes to their math and language foundations,” Fox said. “These foundations result in more confidence in how they show up to school. Students who are confident in the classroom can truly follow their own passions later in life.”
Fox’s passion for tutoring started when she was still a student. She took on teacher’s assistant and tutoring opportunities for lower-level math classes as a high school senior, then attended Washington State University Vancouver. After graduation, Fox founded Gold Star Tutoring in 2009.
What started as a solo operation has since grown to a team of multiple teachers and locations in La Center, Battle Ground, Ridgefield and Salmon Creek. Fox hopes to open a new Woodland location by 2023.
In the future she is considering taking Gold Star nationwide by creating online video lessons.
“My favorite part of my job is seeing the massive growth in confidence our students achieve over time,” Fox said. “I have tutored many students, from elementary through their senior year. Watching them walk across the stage at graduation makes my heart beam.”
Gold Star Tutoring will begin signing clients for the fall on Monday. Fall tutoring will begin Tuesday, Sept. 6. Visit Gold Star’s website at www.goldstartutoring.net.
While business travel continues to grow healthily, travellers may have another potential disruption to be on guard for: the rapid rise of flu and COVID-19 cases that are expected to peak in the coming months. As such, businesses will need to look for ways to protect their travel from disruption — and their budget.
As the global managing director at Corporate Traveller, Flight Centre Travel Group’s flagship travel management provider for SMEs, I’ve seen a rapid increase in travel bookings among our customers, confirming businesses understand the value of face-to-face interactions. Certain activities, such as site inspections, sales meetings, M&A meetings, product demonstrations and training, simply cannot be done well virtually.
Business travel is here to stay, but now businesses need to get smarter at minimising disruptions. The new wave of COVID-19 cases and rumours around the reintroduction of some restrictions tells us we are still in the middle, rather than at the end, of the pandemic. The flu is also back and we can’t afford to become complacent. While it requires more forward-planning and can be challenging to navigate updated medical advice, there are ways to take to the skies seamlessly. Many of Corporate Traveller’s own customers in industries such as medical, mining and construction continued essential travel through last year’s lockdowns and restrictions with minimal disruptions.
Here is my advice for businesses to help minimise disruptions and continue travelling this winter.
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1. Understand what your travel insurance covers. Good travel insurance will offer cover for overseas medical expenses plus cancellation, amendment, and additional expenses if a traveller contracts COVID-19 during their trip and is hospitalised or forced into quarantine or isolation. Business travellers should ensure they understand the detail of the cover and who to contact if they need help. This is critical, especially hospital admission for COVID-19, which can cost an average of USD$42,200 ($60,400) in the US.
The best travel insurance providers offer 24/7 assistance and claims support and can recommend accredited medical facilities and hospitals around the globe. They also augment their cover with online tools to check the latest COVID-19 travel information and advice for destinations including COVID-19 risk and infection levels and entry and quarantine requirements.
I encourage businesses to do their due diligence and shop around to find a policy that offers the most extensive domestic and international cover amid the current environment.
2. Minimise infection risks by strategically selecting executives to travel. Having an employee become unwell during travel and unable to continue can cause major disruptions, with substantial rescheduling and insurance administration to follow. Companies can minimise infection risks by flying executives who have recently recovered from COVID-19 or the flu or are up to date on their vaccinations. Sending executives with good immunity can also mitigate risks for clients. The COVID-19 reinfection period was recently updated from 12 weeks to four. Despite testing requirements being scaled back, businesses would be wise to have measures in place around testing prior to travel to minimise the risks as much as possible.
3. Have back-up travellers on standby. With COVID-19 and flu cases rising, travellers risk infection up to the day of their departure. Businesses could consider having executives in place who can be ‘subbed-in’ to cover a business trip, to avoid major disruptions. This way, important meetings and activities can continue without the need for cancellations or rescheduling. A good business travel insurance policy should cover the costs involved in replacing an employee, including the cost of any ticket changes or additional accommodation requirements to replace a traveller who cannot complete the trip due to medical reasons.
4. Boost ‘travel confidence’ among hesitant employees. A proportion of travellers may still be concerned about potential risks when travelling. Taking them through the company travel policy and risk mitigation strategy could increase their confidence. It may be worthwhile for businesses to conduct regular employee surveys to gauge any concerns and questions. Business could also consider allowing hesitant executives to ease back into travel with short domestic trips before they return to long-haul travel. Assigning travellers with an emergency contact for advice can also help ease fears.
5. Keep informed on destination requirements and restrictions. Travel rules change regularly, with each country and state implementing their own rules. For instance, vaccination status or negative COVID-19 tests are still required for entry to some countries such as Hong Kong and Japan. Singapore has continued its requirement for non-vaccinated travellers to show proof of SGD30,000 ($31,160) COVID-19 medical cover. Businesses should keep up to date on the rules in relevant destinations, communicate these with their travellers and support their travellers in meeting the rules. The easiest method of doing so is to have a system in place that updates executives on rules in real-time. Businesses can assign an employee to this information-gathering role or onboard a travel management company that is equipped with the technology and support to help companies stay abreast of requirements and even rising COVID cases in certain destinations to minimise disruptions.
6. Plan for luggage-related risks. Airport staff shortages, increased demand for travel, and some flight disruptions have led to a latest increase in misplaced luggage. While most luggage is recovered, it is important for businesses to plan for potential mishaps and ensure executives can move seamlessly in and out of airports. Businesses could encourage their travellers to take on carry-on luggage only, if possible. If check-in luggage cannot be avoided, travellers could ensure the most essential items are packed in their carry-on luggage, including a business outfit for their next meeting.
“Nima is planning a vacation. The total cost of his vacation, c, in dollars, for n nights of stay at a hotel can be estimated by the equation c = 375n + 1,700. If Nima can spend no more than 4,000 dollars on his vacation, what is the greatest number of nights he can stay at the hotel?”
If you find problems like this difficult, you’re not alone. That’s a sample test question from the Praxis Core, a standardized test for prospective K-12 teachers. The question comes from a practice test posted online by the educational nonprofit Khan Academy.
The Praxis is a standardized test that prospective teachers in Vermont and other states are required to pass, intended to measure teachers’ proficiency in basic academic subjects.
But state and local education officials say that many aspiring teachers have struggled to pass it — creating a hurdle to the profession that can keep educators out of the workforce.
Now, Vermont officials hope to get rid of that requirement.
Officials have been considering changes in the Praxis test requirement since before the Covid-19 pandemic.
But amid a nationwide teacher shortage, the issue “was something that we paid closer attention to during the pandemic, because the challenges in staffing just really increased,” said Amy Minor, the chair of the Vermont Standards Board for Professional Educators, a state body that oversees licensure and professional standards for teachers.
“We were losing good potential teaching candidates because of (the test) as a sole requirement,” said Minor, who is also superintendent of the Colchester School District.
She noted that many prospective teachers were falling short of the required test scores by only a couple of points.
To become a licensed teacher in Vermont — in any grade or subject area — applicants must receive a passing grade on the Praxis Core test.
Praxis tests “measure academic skills in reading, writing and mathematics deemed by teacher educators to be essential for all candidates preparing to be teachers, no matter what content area or grade-level they aspire to teach,” according to the website of Praxis’ publisher, Educational Testing Services. The standardized testing giant also administers the Graduate Record Exams, required for admission to many graduate schools, and TOEFL tests that gauge English-language proficiency.
Vermonters who are not licensed to teach can be granted temporary licenses, with the goal of passing the Praxis test while they teach. Teachers can attempt the test multiple times.
But most temporary licenses are valid for only up to three years, after which time they cannot be renewed. If candidates do not pass the Praxis test within that period, they are ineligible to become a teacher.
“It's a real challenge,” said Brooke Olsen-Farrell, superintendent of Slate Valley Unified School District, of prospective teachers struggling to pass the exam. “I'd say we probably have about 10 teachers in that boat right now.”
The Praxis test includes questions in three areas: math, memorizing and writing. Applicants are required to interpret passages, correct grammatical mistakes, and solve word problems.
To teach in specific subject areas or grade levels, applicants may be required to take additional Praxis tests, such as chemistry, French, or elementary education.
Current rules allow state officials to waive the test in specific circumstances. But that, too, can be a burden: Local officials must “demonstrate that not being given a waiver would substantially inhibit the district’s ability to carry out its locally established objectives.”
And the candidate must have taken the test three times and failed to achieve the required scores.
For many prospective teachers, those tests are difficult. Candidates may be quizzed on subjects outside their specialty that they haven’t studied for years. And candidates whose first language is not English also struggle with the memorizing and writing sections.
“We've had a subgroup of our new educators that really struggle,” said Lynn Cota, superintendent of Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union. “And unfortunately, they can be really great in the classroom. But if they can't pass (the test), they can't get their educator license, which is unfortunate.”
The total passing rate for all Praxis tests taken in Vermont is approximately 70%, according to an Agency of Education spokesperson. That figure, however, does not take into account people taking the test multiple times, so the real passing rate is likely higher.
“I can certainly say that, for many aspiring educators, the Praxis has been a hurdle,” said Don Tinney, president of the Vermont chapter of the National Education Association, the teachers union.
Tinney noted that all standardized tests contain “an element of bias.”
“We are pleased that the (Agency of Education) is exploring alternative pathways to educator licensure so that the Praxis test is not an unfair barrier to folks trying to enter the profession,” he added in a follow-up text message.
Instead of passing the Praxis test, proposed changes in state rules would allow applicants to “demonstrate competency with basic skills through a method determined by the Standards Board.”
Most applicants would likely still take the test, but others could substitute relevant coursework, or certain grades.
The proposed change was “a response to work we have been doing to better understand which barriers to licensure are more reflective of privilege and which are reflective of good teaching,” Suzanne Sprague, a spokesperson for the Agency of Education, said in an email.
“The Praxis Core becomes an assessment of how good your high school was,” said Patrick Halladay, director of the Education Quality Division at the Agency of Education. “And so, if I came from a less advantaged neighborhood and went to a less advantaged high school, I probably didn't do as well on the Praxis Core.”
Earlier this year, the Standards Board submitted the proposal to the Interagency Committee on Administrative Rules, which oversees the rulemaking process. The committee is scheduled to consider the proposal Aug. 8, and it could go into effect in November or December, state officials say.
But the Standards Board has given the agency the green light to start implementing the new rules even before the proposal officially becomes a rule.
As schools across the state grapple with severe teacher shortages, the proposal could offer a tool — however small — to address them.
“I actually am hopeful that it will get more people that are passionate about teaching into the classroom faster,” said Minor, the Colchester superintendent and chair of the Standards Board. “And that's exactly what we need right now.”
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For anyone in enrollment management, June through August are often the most painful months, and a major contributor to that pain is what we call “summer melt.”
In many cases, admissions and financial-aid offices have been working with students for 18 months or longer to bring them to the point of making a commitment to attend our college or university. In the weeks leading up to the start of classes, however, some of these committed students “melt” away, citing a host of reasons, or no reason at all. Lost students leave gaps in campus budgets and classrooms. For enrollment leaders, a summer melt of 8 to 10 percent or more can often turn a winning enrollment cycle into a loss.
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For anyone in enrollment management, June through August are often the most painful months, and a major contributor to that pain is what we call “summer melt.”
In many cases, admissions and financial-aid offices have been working with students for 18 months or longer to bring them to the point of making a commitment to attend the college or university. In the weeks leading up to the start of classes, however, some of these committed students “melt” away, citing a host of reasons, or no reason at all. Lost students leave gaps in campus budgets and classrooms. For enrollment leaders, a summer melt of 8 to 10 percent or more can often turn a winning enrollment cycle into a loss.
What causes melt? A wide range of potential factors — only some of which we control — can spark a break between the student and the institution at this point. Perhaps something has changed in their family dynamic. Perhaps the approaching semester has made them anxious about going too far away from home. Or maybe they received the tuition bill and the reality of a monthly payment plan hits home. To an enrollment team trying to fill its class, the potential potholes seem endless.
Over the last decade, enrollment managers have ramped up our efforts to combat melt. We have devised special communication sequences, mailed monthly swag items, actively engaged students using social media, sent encouraging letters from famous alumni, and fine-tuned our early orientation programs. No doubt these efforts have prevented some loss of students, but not enough of them.
A different approach. Back in November, I wrote an article for The Chronicle that asked, “Have We Gotten Student Success Completely Backward?” In it, I explored the research of the Gallup-Purdue Index on the six major experiences in college that best predict long-term success and satisfaction. Not only could those experiences be the most important things that students get out of college, I wrote, but they might also be the key to actually getting students through college. I highlighted two ideas in particular:
In short, the way to retain students is not to try to control every possible thing that could go wrong, but to deliver them one or two good reasons to stay.
As I have continued to observe student behavior, it has become clear to me that this dynamic starts from the early stages of a student’s relationship with a college. In fact, I believe one of the critical test points occurs precisely at the time when we see summer melt. From this viewpoint, melt is not so much an admissions issue as it is the very first phase of the retention problem.
Fine-tune the “handoff.” Consider: A high-school student has been building a relationship with a college for months. The college has sent her brochures, emails, and websites depicting the very best the institution has to offer. When she had a question, she could call or email and get an attentive response. She was constantly reminded of the exciting experiences awaiting her once she set foot on the campus. Based on these interactions, she and her family put down a commitment of several hundred dollars.
After May 1, admissions takes a step back and begins the handoff process to other offices like housing, the health center, academic advising, and the business office. For the student, the interactions suddenly start to feel a lot less personal and more like she is stepping onto a conveyor belt with a lot of other students. Instead of looking forward to all of the exciting things she gets to be a part of, she is suddenly confronted with the reality of all the “not-so-fun” things she has to figure out for the first time.
That’s a good example of how our internal processes move in the opposite direction of the two essential needs I mentioned that prevent melt — someone who has the student’s back and some activity that connects the student to the college. Yet we know how to help students make the transition to college in the right way. After all, we already do this well with two groups of students who almost never melt:
Those examples suggest two strategies we can employ to reduce melt and better connect new students with our campuses. While relatively simple, these strategies do require cultural change, which can be the most difficult factor. And they both shift a college’s focus from “onboarding” to retention.
Give each student a transition team. As soon as students pay their enrollment deposit, we can begin connecting them to the campus. Picture a package that is sent to each student saying, “Here is your transition-to-college team.” Then list names and numbers for people — not just offices — that the student can contact with any questions that arise. This team might include an admission counselor, a financial-aid contact, an academic adviser (or faculty adviser), a student mentor, and a representative from the business office to answer billing questions.
No more impersonal handoff into the machine. Make it clear very early in the process who will have the student’s back when they arrive on the campus. That way, all students feel like they have an advocate, and parents feel like they are handing their student off to real people.
This is a particularly effective place to engage faculty members in student retention. Over the years, as enrollment has become more competitive, many colleges have asked professors to be involved in recruitment. Usually that has meant asking them to step into a sales role: calling, emailing, or writing notes to students. Instead, why not invite professors into a mentoring role on a student’s transition team — a task that would be more aligned with faculty work, anyway?
During the height of the pandemic, many advising appointments had to be conducted virtually. That experience demonstrated just how easy it would be to start connecting with potential students well before they arrive on the campus. As they commit to your college, you could set them up with a faculty member or with other members of the student’s transition team for a virtual chat about their intended major, what to expect from classes, and what their hopes are for the future. If academic issues arise or if they need help from career services, this can happen early.
Don’t bury them all at once in forms. The months of May, June, and July are a lot of work and a lot of hassle for new students and their families. After 12 months of being wooed by the admissions office, families spend the 90 days before school starts filling out forms, taking out loans, getting sizable bills, and sending in health records. In the process, they have to navigate a byzantine system of policies and procedures that often only make sense to us.
These are critically important steps for students to complete, but the concentration of them at the end of the process, and the lack of offsetting opportunities for students to envision an exciting future at the college, make this the most dangerous time period in the whole recruitment cycle. We have to find ways to lessen the shock of so much business process all at once and to balance it with a renewed vision of the opportunities that will make it worthwhile.
The first part of this equation would be greatly improved by shifting our business cycle earlier:
If these business functions started earlier, staff members would have more time in the summer to devote to students’ transition to college. We would have more time to get creative in reminding students about the reasons they chose our college in the first place. Among other things, we could:
Too many institutions draw a line between pre-enrollment and post-enrollment students that the students themselves don’t see. Ultimately, the very same principles that drive retention and student success apply to preventing summer melt: We just have to deliver students good reasons to stay instead of trying to control the reasons they leave. From that perspective, the mystery of summer melt isn’t much of a mystery at all.
So, you’ve decided you want to be a doctor. Welcome to the pre-med world at UH — it can be a long and crazy ride, but if you’re confident you want to be a physician and are willing to work hard towards your dream, you can get there. As someone who initially felt lost, here are a few things I wish I’d known going in.
You can major in anything and still be pre-med. No major is better than another for medical school admissions, so pick something that interests you and that you can do well in. While majors like biology include many of the prerequisite classes required for medical school and surround you with other UH pre-meds, non-science majors can add variety to your courses and allow you to meet people outside your pre-med bubble.
Most medical schools require general biology, general and organic chemistry, biochemistry, physics, statistics, English and advanced biology, for example genetics, regardless of major. Check the UH pre-health website to see what classes count towards these.
Do your best to do well in them- schools look at biology, chemistry, physics and math grades. Being engaged in class will make it easier to do well in future courses and exams and secure strong letters of recommendation.
Community service goes a long way as a pre-med student, as it shows your desire to help those around you. Whether you tutor middle school students through a campus organization or help at a nearby animal shelter, try to show consistency and initiative in something that matters to you.
You can even create service projects as you gain more experience. Student organizations can help you access volunteer opportunities and leadership roles.
Clinical experience can be anything from volunteering in a hospital to working as a medical scribe. In contrast, shadowing means you follow a doctor around and observe their daily activities. It’s essential to have both to understand the realities of the medical field — maybe you’ll find it’s not for you, and that’s OK.
These experiences can be hard to find, especially if you want a specific schedule, location or salary. So you’ll have to be proactive and get used to cold calling. Since UH is near the Texas Medical Center, you can find many opportunities that are just a short car or Metro ride away.
While research isn’t strictly required, medical schools appreciate applicants who show critical thinking and scientific inquiry. Opportunities include wet lab pipetting, mice work, computer modeling, translational and clinical research, health disparities and even research completely outside of health.
Most UH labs are willing to take on undergraduates, but you must be eager and persistent when asking to join. Cold emailing to ask for a meeting with the professor in charge of the lab, the principal investigator, is a typical way to start. You can also reach out to the Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards.
Non-medical employment can pay the bills and boost your application. Being a waitress or cashier shows you have people skills, are dependable and can balance a real job with school. These often pay more than entry-level clinical jobs, so it’s something to consider if you find yourself strapped for cash.
Don’t forget to keep up with what makes you, you. Whether rock climbing, drawing or just getting boba with friends, these activities can help you de-stress and can also be put on your application if they are significant to you.
I put this last because you don’t need to stress about it yet. The Medical College Admissions Test consists of four sections- chemistry/physics, reading, biology/biochemistry and psychology/sociology.
Students usually take it between sophomore and junior year at the earliest, with most taking it during the spring semester of their junior year if they want to enter medical school right after graduation. The most important thing you can do to prepare as a freshman is to do well in your relevant classes and retain the material.
If you feel overwhelmed already, don’t be. No one is perfect in all these aspects nor capable of focusing on all of them simultaneously. Medical schools understand if your circumstances prevent you from doing as much as you’d like. Be sure to check out the UH Pre-Health Advising Center website for more detailed information, and best of luck as you begin your journey.
Statistically, the Washington State University Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine enrolls higher numbers of American Indian and Alaska Native students compared to other medical schools nationwide.
That’s not saying much, Leila Harrison admitted.
Harrison, the College of Medicine’s senior associate dean for admissions and student affairs, pointed to how WSU’s number of enrolled American Indian and Alaska Native students has ranged as high as approximately 5% of the total student population. By comparison, the annual nationwide rate in that span has hovered around 0.7%, according to Association of American Medical Colleges data.
“When you say that, you would think that it’s a big number,” Harrison said. “It’s still a small number, and that needs to change.”
The College of Medicine is hoping to do so by expanding a program that offers conditional acceptance into WSU’s medical school to students from federally recognized tribes.
Since 2020, WSU has partnered with the Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine in Portland and the University of California, Davis School of Medicine to offer the Wy’east Post-Baccalaureate Pathway.
As part of the program, the College of Medicine has granted conditional acceptance to up to four students per year who first attend a 10-month program at OHSU in Portland.
Starting in 2024, WSU will host its own pathway program on the Spokane campus thanks to a five-year, $3.4 million federal grant that will allow for more enrollees and – for WSU – a more direct connection with program participants.
“The amazing part of that is we get to have our own faculty train them. We get to immerse them into our own learning environment and learning community,” said Harrison, who has spearheaded WSU’s program pathway efforts. “For them, they get to know us better as an administration and our current student body. They get to become more familiar with the resources that are available to our medical students.”
Before getting involved in Wy’east, the WSU College of Medicine – founded in 2015 – was not established long enough to create its own pathway program.
Harrison said OHSU reached out around 2018 to see if WSU was interested in Wy’east, thereby giving participating students options to attend medical school either at WSU Spokane, OHSU or UC Davis in Sacramento. WSU’s first Wy’east cohort was picked in 2020.
The 10-month program in Portland prepares participants for the first year of medical school with anatomy and epidemiology coursework, clinical shadowing, research and Medical College Admission Test preparation.
Moving to Portland for 10 months’ of classes before moving again to Spokane was a barrier for many prospective applicants, however. Lexie Packham, who is entering her second year at the College of Medicine, had to move from Utah to Portland for Wy’east before finally landing in Spokane to attend WSU.
“That was a bit inconvenient for my husband who had to be switching jobs a lot,” said Packham, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. “It would’ve been nice to do Wy’east at the school that I was going to attend afterwards.”
A new $3.4 million grant, funded over five years from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will allow WSU, OHSU and UC Davis to each operate their own pathway programs for Native students.
WSU’s program, which will come online in fall 2024, will have a new name reflective of local tribes, Harrison said. WSU also plans to enroll more students and will attempt to make it a certificate or degree program.
“These are not necessarily going to be courses that are already existing,” she said. “Part of this is building, working with our current faculty to build coursework that is applicable to this level of student that is sort of pre-preparation for the medical curriculum.”
Wy’east students, as well as those participating in WSU’s future program, must be enrolled members of federally recognized tribes, regardless of race or ethnicity, and must have a bachelor’s degree. State law prohibits WSU from considering race or ethnicity for admissions.
Harrison said the grant also allows WSU to hire additional program staff.
“It’s really kind of bringing them into that College of Medicine family that we have and the overall culture that we have,” she said. “They already become part of us, so that way, when they matriculate into the medical school, they are already comfortable. They already have that knowledge and trust rather than transitioning and building it brand new.”
Packham said Wy’east gave her a pathway to pursue her dream after her initial applications into medical school were rejected.
“It’s really important that WSU has a program like Wy’east to get Native people involved in medicine because I know a lot of Native people who are interested in working in health care,” she said. “It’s hard because they don’t ever see a Native doctor.”
Packham had applied to medical schools after studying microbiology at Brigham Young University. While she wasn’t accepted, two of the schools – WSU and OHSU – referred her to the Wy’east program.
As a result, Packham said her first year at WSU felt like review after learning much of the material in Wy’east, which – due to the conditional acceptance – provided a “low-stakes environment” for her to learn.
“That really helped me have a mindset of just trying my best and not being a perfectionist about things,” she said, “because the point of school, the point of medical school, is to keep failing until you really understand the coursework and the medical skills. That shift with Wy’east really helped.”
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