Thirty Stony Brook Medicine physicians, residents and medical students recently spoke to Brentwood, Longwood and Wyandanch high school students about careers in healthcare as part of the American Medical Association’s (AMA) annual Doctors Back to School Day.
The Renaissance School of Medicine has participated in the annual event since 2017. The AMA created Doctors Back to School Day to help students from underrepresented communities realize that medicine is an attainable profession. The community outreach program is also an important learning opportunity for medical students since studies indicate that medical students and residents participating in community service are more likely to specialize in family medicine or primary care. The volunteers spoke to more than 500 high schoolers from the three schools on Tuesday, May 17.
The medical students and residents were joined by Stony Brook Medicine attending physicians Dr. Cordia Beverley, assistant dean for Community Health Policy; Dr. Carly Gomes, assistant professor of pediatrics; Dr. Alexandra Guillaume, assistant professor and director of the Gastrointestinal Motility Center; and Dr. Yuri Jadotte, assistant professor and associate program director of the Preventative Medicine Residency Program.
Dr. Beverley has been the driving force behind the annual event. Last year’s program was held virtually because of COVID-19. This year’s event marked an in-person return of Doctors Back to School and featured a Spanish language session for students at Brentwood High School.
“It is incredibly important for these high school students to have the opportunity to meet role models in the field of medicine who are able to demonstrate the many rewards of studying and practicing medicine,” Dr. Beverley said.
The medical students spoke about their own journeys to medical school and what their experience has been like so far. The high school students asked questions about how to apply to medical school, how to decide what kind of medicine to specialize in, how to balance school obligations with one’s personal life and which medical school classes were the most fun.
The teachers were extremely enthusiastic about Doctors Back to School.
“Thank you for sending the medical students and physicians to Wyandanch,” one teacher said. “They were all so wonderful! They interacted with the students on such a real level that it was awesome to witness.”
Doctors Back to School Day is one of several Stony Brook Medicine initiatives to increase the number of future healthcare professionals from underrepresented and underserved communities. Stony Brook also works closely with Brentwood, Longwood and Wyandanch schools through the Health Occupations Partnership for Excellence (HOPE) program, which has launched the college careers of more than 200 Long Island students since its inception in 2005.
In addition, Stony Brook participates in the national mentoring program, Black Men In White Coats, led by Dr. Wilfred Farquharson, licensed psychologist and clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral health at Stony Brook. In 2021, Dr. Farquharson brought together a panel discussion and a screening of the film Black Men In White Coats, and asked the mentors to share their career insights with hundreds of high school students and their families.
— Erica Karp