One of the greatest challenges of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s recruitment efforts has been the limited pool of minority physicians and postgraduate researchers seeking careers in oncology. The Office of Diversity Programs (ODP) has implemented institution-wide and program-specific minority recruitment initiatives, many of which are focused on increasing the number of minority researchers and professionals in oncology.
The ODP works with Memorial Sloan Kettering program leaders, laboratory heads, department chairs, and service chiefs to develop “best practices” for recruiting minority trainees and faculty. These efforts include:
- Providing faculty development opportunities for current minority faculty and fellows including participation in the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) minority career development conferences
- Developing relationships with minority health professional and scientific societies, minority-serving graduate and medical schools, and deans of minority affairs at “majority” medical schools to publicize Memorial Sloan Kettering’s research and training opportunities and to identify interested minority candidates for research and clinical training programs
- Attending national conferences and serving in groups such as the Group on Diversity and Inclusion, through the AAMC, to promote the training opportunities available at Memorial Sloan Kettering and to advise and support other institutions with similar goals.
Training programs for high school students, undergraduates, medical and graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows include:
The Summer Pipeline Program provides funding and support to minority medical students to participate in Memorial Sloan Kettering’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 and/or related biomedical sciences. Since 2005, the ODP has supported research opportunities for more than 100 underrepresented minority medical students.
The Summer Exposure Program for high school students was initiated as part of the U54 Minority Institution/Cancer Center Partnership Grant awarded to Memorial Sloan Kettering by the National Cancer Institute. With The City College of New York, the ODP developed a program for high school students from CCNY’s High School for Math, Science, and Engineering and the World Academy for Total Community Health, a New York City public high school in Brooklyn to provide exposure and support to underrepresented minority 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, more than 70 students have participated in the program.
SPARC is a collaboration between the Weill Cornell Medical College’s Office of Faculty Diversity in Medicine and Science, The Rockefeller University’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science, and Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Office of Diversity Programs. 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 minority junior faculty, residents, fellows, and medical students, and two SPARC junior conferences targeting underrepresented minority high school and undergraduate students. The response to these conferences was extremely favorable. To date, there have been approximately 300 participants in the SPARC conferences and 350 participants in the SPARC junior conferences. Attendees have joined the conferences either in person or via webcast.