Drs. Estefan Beltran and Morgan White saw a gap when it came to mentorship for underrepresented minority (URM) medical students considering family medicine. Though the UW School of Medicine and Public Health has made great strides in recruiting and retaining students, with 33 percent of the most recent class identifying as URM, the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health (DFMCH) has had less sustained success in increasing the diversity of family medicine residents in the department. It’s an issue leadership is committed to addressing and one Beltran and White felt passionate about when they came up with the idea for the Enhancing Representation to Improve our Community’s Health (EnRICH) Program.
EnRICH Team from left: Estefan Beltran, MD, Patricia Téllez-Girόn, MD, Morgan White, MD, Tom Hahn, MD, and Amanda Keenan.
“Research shows that patient outcomes and adherence to a treatment plan are higher when the healthcare provider and patient are racially concordant,” shares White.
While the program officially launched in October 2022, it was in development for more than two years with the help of faculty co-leaders, Drs. Patricia Téllez-Girón and Thomas Hahn. According to Beltran, their support has been instrumental in securing full department and medical school support. Téllez-Girón brings over 20 years of experience working with URM students in a range of academic settings including high school, undergraduate, medical school, and residency. Hahn has spent much of his career guiding medical students and residents and recently accepted a role as director of the Madison Residency Program.
“I hope that programs like this will serve to increase the visibility of the inequalities existing among students of URM populations and the challenges they and their families must face to be able to compete with other students,” says Téllez-Girón.
A fall launch event for the EnRICH Program was held on October 5.
A Need for Support
Beltran understands those challenges. The road to medical school was daunting for him as someone without a legacy in medicine or mentors to lead the way. After conquering that hurdle, finding his way to family medicine also posed challenges as a URM medical student.
“The pathway to becoming a physician is littered with physical and psychological barriers in the form of cost of applications, tests, travel, free time away from financial security and lack of a sense of belonging that deter even the most determined applicants and make them believe it is something unattainable,” he adds. “I was almost one of those students but was lucky to have the support and encouragement of my large family and wonderful guidance counselors to help me along the path.”
Hope for the Future
The mission of EnRICH is to provide mentorship and experiences in primary care to students to increase the number of physicians who represent our diverse patient populations and improve the health of the community. The program is open to all levels of medical students who are matched with a longitudinal family medicine faculty or resident physician mentor and offered opportunities for career mentorship, clinical experience, and community health.
The current EnRICH leadership team includes Beltran, Hahn, Téllez-Girón, White, and Program Coordinator Amanda Keenan.
“With our program we are hoping to engage URM medical students who are interested in family medicine early in their medical school career and provide clinical experiences with diverse patient populations and one-on-one mentorship that will hopefully encourage these students to pursue family medicine as a career and possibly stay here in Madison!” says White.
A new class of medical students began studies in August, and the EnRICH Program Team is ready to make those connections to help URM students find a path to family medicine.
For more information, visit: Enhancing Representation to Improve our Community’s Health (EnRICH) Program
Published: June 2023 | Updated in November 2023 (for Alumni News)