University of Pennsylvania, Five HBCUs Offer Summer Program To Bring More Underrepresented Students To Medical School


The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania is amplifying its longstanding commitment to educating tomorrow’s leaders in patient care, biomedical research, and medical education.

UPenn is offering an expanded, formal partnership with five historically Black colleges (HBCUs): Howard, Spelman and Morehouse in Atlanta, Xavier University of Louisiana, and Oakwood in Alabama.

Launched in 2008, the Penn Access Summer Scholars (PASS) Program is a “pathway program for URiM students to experience the medical school environment first-hand while building supportive networks,” according to the university press release.

Perelman School of Medicine is now offering two summers of research for 12 students with a goal of preparing them to matriculate into medical school, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. For example, students will be guaranteed admission to the Perelman School of Medicine, if they complete two summers of research, maintain at least a 3.6 GPA in college, earn a 1300 on the SAT or 30 on the ACT, and have strong recommendations.

New students are absolved from taking the medical college admission (MCAT) exam and 50% of the tuition will be covered on a yearly basis. The free summer program—which provides opportunities of conducting research, shadowing doctors, patient interaction, building networks—comes with a $4,000 stipend.

“PASS is not just about improving numbers, but empowering the education we provide and enriching the medical school experience for all of our students. It also contributes to the diversification of the workforce, which ultimately translates to more physicians of color in practice, which over time may help to mitigate racial disparities in medicine,” said Horace DeLisser, M.D., associate dean for Diversity and Inclusion at PSOM, according to a press release.

“Providing opportunities for URiM students of today is imperative if we are to build a future of health equity.”

Danielle Johnson, 21, a rising senior at Howard and aspiring doctor, is currently spending her summer at the University of Pennsylvania. The PASS student is researching how to encourage more people of color to engage in clinical trials that help to increase their representation in the treatment of heart disease.

“The research that I’ve done has really hit close to home for me,” said Johnson, per The Philadelphia Inquirer. “A lot of people in my family suffer from these chronic illnesses that we look at. It’s definitely solidified my interest in going into public health…and serving underserved communities in the future.”

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