Exposing Minority Students to the Field of Medicine
UC Med Mentors is led by Dr. Charles Cavallo, and was founded in 2001 by Dr. Wan Lim as an opportunity for UC medical students, from all four classes, to reach out to the youth of Cincinnati while they are undergoing their training to be physicians. The program serves as a cultural exchange for the medical students, and provides opportunities for them to gain insight into the lives of children growing up in adverse conditions. The mentoring relationship exposes the mentees to new and different experiences, and provides positive reinforcement and encouragement. The medical students take a pre and post mentoring survey to measure improvement in cultural competency. This experience serves to make them more well rounded and compassionate physicians.
The medical students are recruited almost exclusively, but not necessarily from the first and second year classes in order to provide a suitable length of time to form the one-on-one mentor-mentee relationship, and to provide the continuity needed to have a significant impact on the mentees. The mentees are from grades K-12 from the Cincinnati Public School system. The emphasis is on reaching out to the younger students in elementary and middle schools.
UC Med Mentors is an affinity group under Cincinnati Youth Collaborative (CYC), which provides the mandatory training for the medical students to be effective mentors. The CYC is also responsible for identifying the mentees for the medical students. The number of medical student mentors has grown from 17 for the first year to over 150 at the present time. This constitutes about 22% of the medical student population and about 7% of all the mentors in the CYC program.
The Mission of UC Med Mentors:
I. To be involved in the academic and intellectual growth of the mentees.
The mentors meet with their mentees on a regular basis and encourage the mentees to excel academically. They contact their mentees at least once a week, tutor, and help with homework or school projects. They encourage high school mentees to choose college as an option and assist with the whole college application process, from writing a resume, preparing for college entrance examinations to filling out the application forms. They also take their mentees on visits to area colleges. Reading is a key to academic success and access to books is essential for reading development. The mentees have an opportunity to own new books either purchased from or donated through First Book, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing books to the hands of underprivileged children.
II. To enrich the lives of the mentees
The mentors are encouraged to share their lives with their mentees. Activities may include roller skating, Frisbee golf, baking cookies, preparing a meal, a walk in the park, washing the dog, hanging out. They take their mentees to cultural and recreational events and places. These include visits to the Newport Aquarium, Cincinnati Zoo, The national Underground Railroad Freedom Center, the Omnimax, art museums, movies, theatrical performances, sports events etc. They may even take short day trips to discover what the surrounding areas have to offer.
III. To encourage the mentees to be computer literate
The Clare Family Foundation and the Medical Staff of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital have generously made arrangements to donate laptops for our mentees. The mentors work with the mentees to develop typing skills in the younger students and to increase computer literacy in the older students. These laptops are loaded with helpful games and programs to enhance the educational experience of mentees.
The UC Med Mentors program is supported by the generous grants and donations from the Dater Foundation, the Clare Family Foundation, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital medical staff, and the UC Medical Student Association.
UC medical students can sign up to volunteer as a UC Med Mentor here: Volunteer Signup Form