Ten medical students at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine at Cleveland, who are among the first cohort in the Cleveland Clinic Physician Diversity Scholars program, have been awarded one-time, $10,000 scholarships. Presentation of the scholarships was made during a dinner celebrating completion of the program’s first academic year.
At the event, minority students attending the Heritage College, Cleveland, and the physician mentors paired with them through the program, offered personal accounts of what they have gained from taking part in the program. “It was a chance for both scholars and mentors to share, either in writing or verbally, in front of the rest of the group, how they’ve benefitted from the relationship,” said Kendalle Cobb, M.D., who mentors two students in the four-year program and serves as its physician director.
Heritage College, Cleveland, Dean Isaac Kirstein, D.O., expressed gratitude for the scholarship support, which he said has encouraged and validated the program’s mission. “It has been rewarding to have generous donors in the community promote increasing diversity in the physician workforce,” Kirstein said. “It affirms the work we are doing as a new Cleveland campus.”
The Heritage College opened its Cleveland campus in 2015 in affiliation with Cleveland Clinic. The diversity program was launched in 2017 as a joint venture of the two entities to build diversity in the physician workforce by giving medical students from underrepresented minority populations a chance to develop long-term mentor/scholar relationships with physicians who are also from a URM background. Most mentors in the program are with the Cleveland Clinic system.
From the outset, all students in the program received a $1,000 annual stipend. The new scholarships were made possible through a philanthropic campaign by the Heritage College and Cleveland Clinic, as well as financial support from both partners. While the mentoring aspect of the program remains its main emphasis, the scholarship support – which program organizers aspire eventually to provide to all participating students – also helps nurture physician diversity.
“The mentorship is the key component,” Cobb said. “But the level of debt that people graduate from medical school with is as much as a mortgage in many cases. So we feel extreme gratitude to the people who have donated to help offset those costs.”
During the first year, 15 scholars participated in the program, and Cobb said she expects around 13 to join from the incoming class of 2022. Scholars benefit from mentor guidance and support in areas such as navigating the professional culture of a major health system and gaining introductions to physicians working in specialties that interest them. They also get to work with high school students from the region, through the Heritage College, Cleveland’s Aspiring DOctors Precollege Program, and attend “boot camps” that provide coaching in skills such as stress and time management.
Mentors also gain from the program, Cobb said. “There are limited numbers of underrepresented minority physicians, and so helping to produce physicians who can join us, care for us and replace us is a big factor,” she said. “And I think there’s excitement that comes from working with young people, not in an evaluative way, but in a nurturing and guiding kind of way.”
Receiving scholarships were students Lucas Beven, Erica Crawford, Devin Daniels, Naiyana Gravely, Paula Jones, Nkiru Mills, Ariel Moore, Crystal Pristell, Chynna Smith and Emery Young. Current physician mentors include Stephen D'Abreau, D.O. (’95); Ron Adams, M.D.; Eric Anderson, M.D.; Amelia Cleveland, M.D.; Kendalle Cobb, M.D.; Karen Cooper, D.O.; Frederick Harris, M.D.; Greg Hill, D.O. (’86); Lili Lustig, D.O.; Charles Martin, M.D.; Charles Modlin, M.D.; Kaine Onwuzulike, M.D., Ph.D.; Leonor Osorio, D.O.; Jazmine Sutton, M.D.; and Khendi White, M.D.
Learn more about the Cleveland Clinic Physician Diversity Scholars Program.