Med school works for diversity

By Christie Craig

The College of Medicine began its quest to improve state healthcare by tackling diversity on Monday.

Several students’ visions came to life as the college concluded the final day of its first-ever program specifically designed to engage minority students.

Second year medical student Ima Ebong first encountered a similar program as an undergraduate at the Georgia Institute of Technology.  As a representative of the class of 2013 in the Dean’s

Advisory Committee for Diversity, she saw her opportunity to ignite her idea at UK.

Ebong said the program at the Georgia Institute of Technology made her experience there better.

“I thought if this college could benefit from the program, why not the University of Kentucky?” she said.

Ebong said the main concept of the program is to attract more under-represented minorities at UK. These groups include African-Americans, Hispanics and students from eastern Kentucky.

The event kicked off with a “Welcome to UK” dinner where Dr. Emery Wilson, dean of the College of Medicine, spoke to the prospective medical students.  The program’s second day intended to give each of the recruits a day-to-day experience of a UK medical student. The day’s activities ranged from a medical campus tour to patient presentations to student diversity services.

Two anatomy lab tours intrigued several students.

“It was really awesome to see everything in text come to life,” medical student Ashley Buchanan said.

Many had never seen a cadaver before the tour and were intrigued by the science involved. The college’s word impressed others, rather than the bodies.

The program also allowed undergraduates to question their journey as a medical student and where they could see themselves in the future.

James Baulding, one of the many students present who had previously attended or toured the University of Louisville, said he was impressed with what he saw.

“The tour was excellent, especially the academic enrichment,” he said.  “The leaders of the tour made the idea of coming to the university’s medical school tangible.”

Undergraduate students from around the state came to experience everything the College of Medicine had to offer, including teachers, technology, students, financial aid, student affairs and services. Dr. Carol Elam, associate dean of Medicine Education, said the college hopes to continue the program next year if the recruits respond positively.

“It turned out even better than we hoped for,” she said. “We want them here and to make a difference in the healthcare in Kentucky.”