One of the greatest challenges of our recruitment efforts has been the limited pool of physicians and postgraduate researchers from underrepresented groups in medicine seeking careers in oncology. MSK has implemented institution-wide and program-specific recruitment initiatives, many of which are focused on increasing the number of underrepresented researchers and professionals in oncology.
Training programs for high school students, undergraduates, medical and graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows include:
The Summer Pipeline Program provides funding and support to underrepresented medical students to participate in MSK’s Medical Student Summer Fellowship Program. This is an eight-week research program for medical students who have a career interest in becoming a physician-scientist in the field of oncology or related biomedical sciences. Since 2005, the program has supported research opportunities for more than 240 underrepresented medical students.
The Summer Exposure Program for high school students was initiated as part of a grant awarded to MSK by the National Cancer Institute to provide exposure and support to underrepresented and under-resourced high school students interested in pursuing careers in the health professions. Students learn about aspects of clinical cancer care, explore the interplay between research and clinical practice, and meet people in different health and scientific professions by shadowing a clinical or research mentor for the summer. Since 2005, about 200 students have participated in the program.
SPARC is a collaboration between Weill Cornell Medical College, The Rockefeller University, and MSK. SPARC seeks to create programs that address and improve the underrepresentation of women and racial and ethnic minority investigators in academic research. Since 2011, there have been two SPARC conferences targeting underrepresented junior faculty, residents, fellows, and medical students, and two SPARC junior conferences targeting underrepresented high school and undergraduate students. To date, there have been approximately 300 participants in the SPARC conferences and 350 participants in the SPARC junior conferences, with attendees joining in person or virtually.