Tag Archives: poverty

Against the Odds: First-Generation in Medicine


It’s hard to become a doctor when you’ve never met one.

It’s sometimes easy to forget from the ivory tower that relatively few American’s have, or take, the opportunity to advance beyond high school. This, of course, means that their children are also less likely to do so. Those kids that do decide to make that leap are at a distinct disadvantage to their peers whose parents did go to college. And those who advance further to attend medical school are even more rare, and are still disadvantaged compared to their peers. We call those students “first-generation in medicine,” and they’re an important group. They represent an opportunity to have a medical workforce that can serve their patients better because they understand a wider range of patient experiences and determinants of health at a gut level.

PA1 Julie Vuong, M1 Amanda Litka, MD/PhD student Faith Prochaska are all first-generation students in college or medicine, and M1 Holly Hemann is engaged in outreach activities focused on first-generation students. They sat down to talk with Dave about their battles to overcome the barriers to enter a medical career, what it means for their future practice of medicine, and how learning about medicine is often a gut-wrenching experience that highlights the struggles their families back home have in maintaining their own health.

Meanwhile, some medical schools have gone tuition free, which should have been good news…but so far it has actually *decreased* the number of low-income students that matriculate at those schools, as well as lowering the number of students from those schools who enter primary care.

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