Minority Excellence Pipeline Program in Ophthalmology - NIH NEI R13 ? PA-16-294 The goal of the Rabb-Venable Excellence in Research Program (RV) is to increase the number of under-represented minority physicians in ophthalmology and academic medicine. The program is a pipeline process to expose medical students and resident/fellows to role models, skills needed in medical practice and teaching, research opportunities and to provide mentoring. While on NEI council, Mildred MG Olivier, MD challenged the group to find more under- represented minorities (URM) to submit grants. For her part, she applied for a grant which would have impact on increasing the number of under-represented minorities in ophthalmology. The grant funded the continuation of the RV Program which had been in existence since 2000 when Lenworth Johnson, MD (past NEI council member) launched a research program inviting medical students, residents/fellows to the Annual Meeting of the National Medical Association (NMA) to present their work. The NMA was founded in 1895 because the American Medical Association did not allow African American physicians membership to their organization. Now more than 30,000 NMA physicians participate, working to eliminate the disparities in healthcare. Those racial and ethnic disparities cost the US $1.24 trillion with $229 billion in direct cost for medical care associated with disparities.1 Thirty percent of the US population are URM, however only 9% are medical doctors (Figure 1). Even fewer URM physicians are specialists. The RV Program has proven outcomes in placing and supporting URM students in subspecialty training. Figure 1. Minority representation in health related fields.2 Over the next five year period, the RV Program expects to build on its longitudinal success by a) expanding the number of participants to 60 by 2021; b) enriching the understanding of both students and mentors of the health impacts of disparities; c) enlisting additional physician mentors to work with the medical students and residents/fellows between meetings; and d) developing sources for supplemental funding to assure program sustainability. 1 John A. Poisal, M. Kent Clemens and Joseph Lizonitz et. al.. ?The Outlook Health Spending Projections Through 2018: Recession Effects Add Uncertainty.? Health Affairs 28, no.2 (2009):w346-w357, originally published online February 24, 2009. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.28.2.w346. 2 Thomas LaVeist And Colleagues from the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland, Kaiser Family Foundation Study commissioned by The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, 2008. http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/total-active-physicians/
Approximately 1% of the practicing ophthalmologist in the US are under-represented minorities. Increasing the number of minority practitioners would improve access to eye care in underserved communities as these physicians are more likely to practice in these communities than majority physicians. Recruiting more under-represented minority medical students to the field of ophthalmology and supporting these already in residency programs will help decrease health disparities in the US.