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Why do Mentorship Opportunities Need to be Improved?

Bridge was created in response to a problem that was identified by the Bridge medical student leaders and faculty: that access to mentorship opportunities was decentralized, informal, and subsequently inequitable.

It is widely accepted that educational and professional disparities exist from an early age and persist throughout career advancement. For example, students from the city of Rochester are unlikely to have access to the same resources as those from wealthier suburbs, who may rely on personal connections to the medical field to gain mentorship opportunities. This is important not just for the minoritized individuals who suffer direct impact, but for the larger community. Diverse teams have been shown to improve patient care, group problem solving, and research impact among other benefits.

While various “pipeline” programs exist to support learners from backgrounds URiM, their leaders did not have streamlined mechanisms for connecting them to opportunities for clinical shadowing, research projects, or general professional mentorship. At the same time, faculty interested in providing mentorship had no easy way to identify or connect with students who might most benefit. To facilitate connections between these potential mentees and mentors, a solid “bridge” needed to be built.

Who are “Learners from Backgrounds Underrepresented in Medicine”?

People with identities/backgrounds “underrepresented in medicine” (URiM) are fewer in the medical profession relative to their numbers in the general population, as illustrated by the example below.

Black/African Americans in 2018 represented 14% of total US population, but only 5% of active US physicians

Sources: AAMC and Pew Research Center

Beyond race/ethnicity, URiM can also include individuals with disabilities, those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, those who identify as LGBTQ+, among others.

Bridge asks participating mentees to self-identify as being from a background underrepresented in medicine, without requiring them to disclose any specifics about their identity.