In the highly competitive process of finding students with the best potential to become doctors, Temple University has turned to a previously untapped resource: members of its North Philadelphia community, who know better than anyone that would like to see them and their family members treated. .
For the first time, five people who live and/or work in the community surrounding the campus and its hospital helped interview hundreds of applicants for the Lewis Katz School of Medicine class entering fall 2022. And l One of those members had a seat on the 25-member Admissions Decisions Committee, made up largely of medical school professors and physicians.
The idea came from members of the Temple Medical School Student Diversity Council, who worked alongside medical school leaders to hammer out the details, including the decision to pay the community members for their time to prove. the value of their contribution. The goal was to ensure that future students understood Temple’s values and had the ability and empathy to appreciate and respect their future patients.
“We believe it was high time to ensure that our key stakeholders, the community, our patients, had a say in who was selected for the medical class and who would ultimately be in the hospital to care for. of them,” Randolph said. B. Lyde, 32, a Philadelphia native and graduate of Temple Medical School in 2022, who founded and chaired the diversity council.
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Among the community members selected to serve was Naida Elena Montes, 33, a young mentor at the Norris Square Community Alliance who is also a Temple doctoral candidate and a research assistant and adjunct teacher at another college. She has lived in the area most of her life and is currently about a 10 minute walk from campus. His parents went to Temple University Hospital. A close family friend who was like a sister died there.
The main goal, Montes said, was for community members to assess whether they would be comfortable with this student treating members of their community.
She told the students, “For you, it’s a career. For me, it’s life or death.”
Amy Goldberg, a longtime trauma surgeon and acting dean of Temple Medical School, immediately embraced the idea.
“It’s such a great message for our community: we want to know what you think,” said Goldberg, who replaced John Daly after his sudden death in March 2021. “We appreciate you … and know that many you are patients within our hospital and help us in education all the time.
Temple officials, including Jacob Ufberg, the medical school’s associate dean of admissions, said they were unaware of other medical schools that incorporated ‘real, on the ground’ members. of the community as they did. Some others have used a retired doctor in the community or a medical school graduate or an employee or former employee, Ufberg said.
The Association of American Medical Colleges had no immediate information about other schools employing community members. No other Philadelphia-area college that responded to a question said it currently incorporates them, or has done so in the same way as Temple.
“The idea is on our radar for future consideration,” Drexel University spokesperson Niki Gianakaris said.
The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine said it began including members of the Hershey-area community several years ago: a cancer survivor and someone who once acted in as a patient for the practice of medical students currently serve.
Temple has one of the most diverse medical student bodies in the nation — U.S. News & World Report ranked it tied for 6th this year. Nearly 10,400 students applied to medical school last year, 467 of whom were accepted to fill about 220 places. Of those who signed up, 66 were from underrepresented groups.
Students end up learning inside Temple Hospital, which serves many patients of color and low-income families. In 2022, 86% of Temple Hospital patients had government health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, according to a hospital report. Two-thirds of those living in the hospital’s service area are black and Hispanic, and the median household income is $35,405.
Gail Loney, block captain in the 2200 block of North Lambert Street and a longtime resident of North Philadelphia, said she likes that Temple seeks to involve the local community in medical school admissions, but said that Temple should have reached out more broadly through flyers and social media to announce the move and seek volunteers. She said she didn’t know.
“They always talk about engaging the community, but there’s a big part of the community that never knows anything about what they’re engaging the community in,” Loney, 61, said.
As for Temple Hospital, she said she would never go there again after the way she was treated during a late night trip to the ER. She was released within hours, she said, and had to be taken to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, where she was admitted and kept for a week to be treated for pneumonia.
Goldberg and Ufberg said they haven’t observed any issues with how their medical students treat patients, but acknowledged community members have preferences.
“They definitely feel differences between providers, and their comfort level is different depending on how they interact,” said Ufberg, whose specialty is emergency medicine.
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Lyde, a graduate of Masterman, a prestigious Philadelphia magnet, also earned his bachelor’s degree from Temple in Cellular Molecular Neuroscience, then went to the University of Pennsylvania for a doctorate in biomedical pharmacology. He then returned to Temple for medical school because of his deep community ties.
But as good as Temple is, he said, he thought it could get better. About three years ago, he and another student started having lunch with the deans to discuss areas for improvement. While the school was responsive, students saw a better chance of their ideas being implemented if they formed a group that would continue after some of them graduate, said Lyde, who just entered her residency at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
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The Diversity Council, comprising about 60 students from underrepresented groups and their allies, was formed. The board has called for more scholarship funds for underrepresented students, money for community service projects and curriculum changes to omit bias, he said. The students, who are paid for their work, went through the program and recommended changes.
“They may have said this disease is more prevalent in this group of people but never talked about economic factors or food deserts,” said Sidnei Newman, 28, a third-year medical student at Wilmington and new chairman of the board. “We wanted to give more context.
“The worst thing we can do is send students across the street believing that all black people have diabetes without understanding that there are other factors that go into that statistic.”
The council also issued the recommendation regarding community members. He tapped the Temple Urban Bioethics Center, which already had longstanding relationships with community-based nonprofits, to find potential members.
Montes and other community members received interview training and, for about seven months, participated in virtual interviews with candidates that lasted about four hours a week. Montes asked prospective students why they chose Temple, what the community meant to them, and what they would say to him or a family member who was about to die.
She said she found the vast majority acceptable and about 10-15% exceptionally good.
” There was a very few times I’ve been like, “Absolutely not,” she said. Arrogance especially discouraged her. Another interviewer was particularly upset after a candidate showed extreme bias, she said.
But she also found it refreshing when some contestants acknowledged they had been called out for bias and hailed it. She particularly liked a candidate in the military who had a strong sense of service, but found another candidate’s answers too “perfect,” almost repetitive.
“To practice medicine is to be an expert but also to have some of the emotional intelligence needed to work with people,” she said. “You can give someone medicine, but if you treat them like crap, the medicine can take the pain, but the damage you’ve done to their brain, how do you cope?”
Ufberg, who is a non-voting committee member, said that when community members strongly oppose candidates, they are not accepted.
In surveys, community members, admissions committee participants and medical school applicants were overwhelmingly positive about the experience, Temple said. About 90% of applicants who responded to a survey said the Community Interviewer added value to their experience and helped them better understand the school.
“I hope it helped good students choose us as much as it helped us choose good students,” Ufberg said.
Newman, the new board chair, said she was ready to continue the work.
“I feel like Temple is setting a trend,” she said, “and setting a standard that if we want to be in these communities, we have to value them and respect them.”