Episode 5: Access and Inclusion in Medicine (AIM) Scholars Program


The Access and Inclusion in Medicine (AIM) Scholars Program focuses on increasing the number of students from diverse backgrounds, to be successful medical graduates. In this episode, we talk about our partnership with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs).

Episode 5 - Access and Inclusion in Medicine (AIM) Transcript

Access and Inclusion in Medicine Program: A Partnership Between Ross University School of Medicine, HBCUs, & HSIs

Milena Garcia: Alright, so welcome back everybody. This week we're going to be talking about our AIM Scholars Program. And this is a partnership that Ross University has with HBCUs and HSIs, which are the Historically Black Colleges and Hispanic Serving Institutions. With me this week is my colleague David Belliard. David, why don't we take a moment to have you introduce yourself to our audience.

David Beliard: Thank you. Marina and Hello everyone, my name is David Belliard and I'm currently an Associate Director of Admissions for Ross University. I've been with the university for about five years, November will make it five years. I started in the Office of Student and Professional  Development. I started as a career advisor, working with students and helping them navigate the residency application process, and it was from there where I was able to learn the student experience as it relates to, you know, what expenses they need to be successful to secure residents. What type of exam. What type of score they need to have on the USMLE to make them a competitive student for a particular specialty. But also I started to identify the type of students we have here at our university and that made me more, you know, intrigued about, you know, diversity and seeing how we can improve, you know, our under-represented minority student population. And then from there, that's how the Access and Inclusion in Medicine program came about.

What is the Ross University School of Medicine Access and Inclusion in Medicine Program?

Milena Garcia: Which is the topic of this week. So let's talk about it. What is the AIM program?

David Beliard: The AIM program stands for access and inclusion in medicine and the program really focuses on increasing diversity in our admissions process here at Ross University. We know that underrepresented minorities struggle with getting an opportunity to pursue their dreams of becoming a doctor because it is competitive. You have close to 2030 applicants who will apply for Medical school entry each year. And they're looking for the best of the best and most of our students that are impacted, our students will come from, you know, an underrepresented minority institutional community. So we wanted to be able to provide a space for them to pursue their medical education and that's how the access and inclusion and medicine program came about.

Milena Garcia: We all have a story, right. We all have challenges. So we're here to listen to the students' stories as well. It's what is the goal of the program.

David Beliard: Yeah, so the goal is really to increase the number of students from diverse backgrounds. We know that Ross University in the past has done a good job. But we want to be more intentional about that. So being able to create strategic partnerships with HBCUs, historically black colleges and universities, HSI,  Hispanic serving institutions. We know that if we can create access and remove any barriers of entry for the students. We can begin to develop self efficacy and the students building that confidence that they need to be able to say, you know what I can do it. Your school Ross University is investing in me and  show me the student outcomes. We have students from our institution who graduated and who are successful. So, you know, being able to show them that really helps the students on terms of being more confident, and most importantly, removing any financial barriers. We know that our students from underrepresented minorities receive the most financial assistance from the US Department of Education. So if we are able to remove any financial barriers for the students so they can apply to Ross University and start their medical education without any financial issues, we think it's beneficial for them.

Milena Garcia: And I can guarantee you, David and I are 100% behind you guys

David Beliard: Absolutely.

How does the Ross University School of Medicine Access and Inclusion in Medicine Program Work?

Milena Garcia: How does the program work, David?

David Beliard: The AIM program works by seeking out top performing institute HBCUs and HSIs that have a pretty strong health professions program and we also utilize the data from the WMC to also identify those schools as well. So tracking the number of applicants that apply from those institutions and then from that point we begin to reach out to those institutions to secure a partnership.: Once a partnership is secured, then we'll begin to work closely with our partner schools and the administrators begin to create a plan on how we can recruit those students or admissions or whether it be, you know, speaking to their parents, which we've done in the past, communicating with the students without any stigma that may be about the institution. And also working with the pre health advisors that institution as well, making sure that they have all the information they need about the partnership and the University so their students can be well informed when they do make a decision to work with Ross University but also any applicant who was interested in our university can check our website so you can go to rossu.edu/admissions and you can scroll down to our HBCU and HSI partnership tab and there you'll be able to identify the list of schools that we currently have partnerships with but also you do identify the benefits and the organizations that were in there, a lot of really nice benefits.

Milena Garcia: So let's talk about those. What are the benefits that receiver city is given to our scholars

David Beliard: Absolutely. So the benefits that an applicant would receive Will be the HBCU AIM scholar scholarship, which is the MERP tuition scholarship

Milena Garcia: Which, by the way, plug in. This is our post back program and I did an episode with Kevin Niessen, our work coordinator. So everyone check back in our podcast list for that specific episode on the MERP Medical Education Readiness Program.

David Beliard: And the cool thing about our program, we're a firm believer in that program because we know this program is a better predictor for student success. The tool that they learn in this program is phenomenal. It's pretty beneficial for the current matriculated that we have basically kind of and the cool thing also is they receive a MERP tuition, which covers that tuition for them. If they have to take that route also students can be able to receive an impact application deferment so if a student is having an issue specifically with COVID-19 they can't sit for the MCAT.,  we will automatically defer the MCAT and roll that students into our Medical Education Readiness Program, which has a merged program and make sure that we can be able to assess if the student is even a great fit for the medical program based on how they would have performed in the summer program. Also, we would provide a stem student who has been accepted a flight to campus for first semester and it will fly them back. After they've completed that two years at Ross University. And also if a student is accepted, the student can also receive a visit to campus as well, so they can bring a family member or two to see the campus so they can be able to kind of get a feel of high would be as matriculate Ross University. Unfortunately, our Florida schools, which is  one of our partners, who's go to any university flight benefit. You know wouldn't be possible due to legal regulations and those things, but they can continue to receive the first semester scholarship.  For direct at MIT. And also, they can receive the first semester housing scholarship as well. But also, we also most recently added our raw success scholarship, which is a merit based scholarship and the cool thing is an applicant can choose the merit based or they can choose The aim traditional scholarship that we started with. And the cool thing about the raw success scholarship is that students can earn up to $108,000 in addition to $19,000 for housing which is a pretty cool or significant amount of money for tuition.

Milena Garcia: I think you just listed a significant amount of money for everything. For everyone listening, go back to our website and go over these benefits that David discovered because. Yes, you heard it right there is, there are seven or eight benefits listed on there. So go back to our website: medical.rossu.edu, under the admissions part. David. This is an incredible program. So tell us, how do the students apply for it?

How Do Students Apply to the Access and Inclusion in Medicine Program?

David Beliard: Even though our students have a direct contact for an admissions person here at Ross University. But our students will have to apply just like anyone else. So they would go directly to our website. And look for the admissions tab. And the cool thing is the application is that no cost for the applicant so they can apply directly and just make sure that you know if you are a student that is applying that you submit everything that you need. So we can move you along in the process. Also, if you are an applicant who are, you know, who may be considering other institutions and you have an AM cast application.The cool thing about that is that you could just upload that application directly on our website and we'll be able to make sure that we have everything we need. And we'll move along in the application process.

Milena Garcia: So as soon as the students apply any future awesome he's listening to us. You get assigned to an admissions coordinator right away. And we do have the support all throughout the timeline while you're with us at Ross, in fact at Ross we offer a lot of different kinds of resources, either psychological or academical. In fact, as soon as you apply. We actually assign an admissions coordinator to your file right away. So there is support all throughout. From day one when we received your application. And this continues on through your timeline while you're on campus at Ross. In fact, it continues on it during clinical rotations at Ross. We have all kinds of academic support or psychological support with the new student coordinators, the admissions coordinators, the Academy for teaching and learning as David mentioned the Counseling Center, the clinical advisors, the Office of Greer attainment. All this is available to all our students, David, tell us some of the additional support that we have specifically for our aim scholars

David Beliard: Absolutely Elena, in addition to the services that you just mentioned. The services like that. We like to offer and what we like to call it is the white glove service and basically just making sure we put all the services on a platter for the students. So making sure they have a direct contact or someone in the admissions department so they can connect to meet myself for you. And being able to, you know, reach out to us or whatever questions that they may have so we can make sure we have a smooth process in the application cycle. And also, you know, we wanted to make sure that these students feel at home when they enrolled at Ross University. And the cool thing is, you know, we've had quite a few matriculates from our partners partnership schools already so we can be able to align them with a peer mentor. Who can be able to kind of help them navigate that first semester. Right now, you know, students are virtually but when they begin to go back into normal experiences and normal matriculation the suitor can be able to have that peer mentor to kind of show them, you know, the study spaces, how to manage your time. And, you know, being able to have that peer mentor, they connect with really helps students feel connected to their studies here at Ross university but also utilizing our Academy for teaching and learning. Having a designated individual and that partner, to be able to help create an academic plan for success for our students and also tracking that success as well. So whenever there's a failure, we can be able to address it immediately before it gets too late for students. So being closely connected to the Academy Is really really helpful for us and for our students for their academic success. But also we want our students to be engaged outside of the classroom as well. But we want to be able to make sure they are connected to clubs and organizations, of course, we don't want to overwhelm our students because medical school is already challenging but We still want them to be able to leave a footprint at Ross university. So we want to be able to connect them with different organizations, but the minority organizations or medical specialty type of organization.  And as you know, believe that they can create an organization as well. So whatever they want to do, what have you, they make sure that it can be. Oh.

Why is the Access and Inclusion in Medicine Program Important?

Milena Garcia: Of course, we encourage taking the initiative yes in fact at receiver. So we've always been known to have a diverse student body. This program was started a couple years ago, the initiative was started a couple years ago, David, why do you think this initiative is so important?

David Beliard: I believe when you know we thought about putting this program together. You know, we knew that equity in the admissions medical school admissions process wasn't the same for underrepresented minority students and Ross University, as I stated earlier, I know we did a good job. We weren't intentional and we knew that a lot of medical schools in the US. talked about hope, we want to be able to invest money into bringing in our  underrepresented minorities, having specific scenes for them, but they talked about it but never put their words into action. So we saw this as an opportunity to be able to be the front runners for a model for international medical schools or even US schools to be able to show them this is how you can be able to support your underrepresented minority students by creating strategic partnerships and putting your finances behind those students so they can be successful. And of course, prior to this program's inception. 

We did look at some historical information from the double A and C altering the course. Black males and medicine, which provided as data from 1978 which talked about the significant decline in black males entering medical school. And when you look at that decline, you know, you can think about the different environmental factors that have impacted our black males coming into medical school, whether it be, you know, the economic disparities, whether it be lack of education, the teachers or the books, you know, being able to see a doctor that looks like them in the community that they come from. Because we know you know the positions that reflect the community. You know those patients are more compliant to be able to be more receptive to the Medical recommendations, the medications to follow those things. So we know you know the impact of that. 

But, you know, our women are still doing our minority women. The women are doing well with enrollment in medical school, but we do know that it's still important for us to continue to support our women and our room that process coming from our partner schools. Because we know that we want to be able to continue to have physicians reflect the community that we want them to serve. And the demand for black male physicians or physicians as a whole is important, and we want to be able to increase those physicians coming into those communities because by 2030, we know that the physician shortage will impact the world. But we want to be what we know for sure it's going to impact the underrepresented minority communities. So we want to be able to be able to say, okay, at the end of it all by 2030. These are, these are the amount of doctors that were created that really able to help put in those communities. Where the shortest will impact. So I think that's why the initiative is important. And that's the reason why you know we continue to work hard every day to, you know, recruit our students and make sure that they have the support they need to be successful here at Ross University.

How Much Support Can You Expect from the Access and Inclusion in Medicine Program?

Milena Garcia: Yeah. and David and I are here so that you can do it don't self select out, make it work. We will find role models for you that will connect with alumni or current students. So always reach out to us. David, where can they get a hold of you?

David Beliard: So you can get a hold of me if you go to our last website and go to rossu.edu/admissions and click the HBCU tab, you'll be able to find my contact information. My email address, my phone number. If you have any questions about the university, about, you know, any support services that we offer, any alumni information, just please feel free to reach out to me, I'll be more than happy to assist you with that.

Milena Garcia: And so I'm here representing the HSI side of aim and you can reach me at MGarcia@Rossu.edu. David thank you for joining us. What about any last recommendations or advice for our future aim Rossies?

David Beliard: Our future aim Rossies we know that COVID-19 has presented a challenge as it relates to getting any type of shadow and experiences volunteer answers. But if there's a possibility for you to volunteer in a COVID-19 site. Calling a hospital. Maybe if there's an opportunity to volunteer specifically at the underserved community. This really speaks highly to see, you know, your passion for wanting to become a doctor, but also you know your experiences would align with the aim program. You know, our job is to make sure that we can be able to help our students consider working in those areas. So being able to show that interest in that they're passionate early on private enrolling speaks volumes, but also making sure that you have a strong personal statement, you know, I think a personal statement is a great way for you to share your story. With Melinda and I, but also with the admissions committee of those schools, you will be able to learn more about why you want to become a doctor and how your background has aligned with you wanting to be a part of the Ames program. And just really just gives us an insight of who you are. So making sure that you have a strong personal statement. But most importantly, you know, your strengths and weaknesses, make sure that you face those failures, head on and now running away from them. You know, being a Rossie is an experience if you will face challenges and we want to be able to learn how you overcame your past challenges. So you can feel confident if you fail the exam or you had a conflict with appearing that you will be able to overcome those obstacles here at Ross University.

And then also, we wanted to make sure that you know you meet the qualifications in that you're prepared. For one of the most important exams for entry into medical school, and that's your MCAT exam. So if you can start to identify the resources, a year career office or in the pre health advisor, being able to identify with have a prep resources they have That's going to help you when it's time for you to sit for the exam. So start through starting your freshman year who identify those resources. Because if you can take the exam on the first attempt, feeling confident, feeling prepared we know that that's going to be you know the outcome of that exam is going to be what you're looking for. And that's going to help you in terms of being the qualified students for Ross University and also maintaining a strong GPA. COVID-19 has presented a lot of challenges as well in that aspect. So some of you may be homeschooling. Some of you may be in a distant learning environment. If you are in your book you are on your campuses.

 So, you know, being able to communicate with the professor and having that engagement may be difficult, but find a way to continue to maintain a strong GPA, because that's also going to be a good thing for the admissions committee as well.

When it's time to make a decision. So those are my recommendations for our future aim Rossi's and we look forward to having you. We look forward to, you know, making sure that you reach your long term goal, goal of becoming a physician, Dr. Ross.

Milena Garcia: Thank you David for joining me. I appreciate it. This is such an important program we're giving students the opportunity to pursue your dream, but also as a result, making the medical providers reflect better and connect better With communities That they serve. Thank you again for your time. We appreciate all this information. Thank you guys for joining us Next week for the next episode. Thank you.