Racial diversity in the medical field remains elusive. Actively engaging high school students from communities underrepresented in medicine (URiM) through pipeline programs has been identified as a viable strategy to support diversification of the U.S. physician population. However, students’ perspectives toward these programs remains unclear. In this study, we aim to elicit insights of URiM students matriculating to postsecondary education who participated in the Doctors of Tomorrow (DoT) program to better understand their experiences. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 of the 17 high school students from the inaugural year of DoT. We explored URiM students’ experiences during DoT involvement, as well as growth, interpersonal interactions, and plans for the near future. Transcripts from the interviews were coded and analyzed using qualitative thematic analysis. We identified three main themes: contextually relevant experiences, meaningful relationships and interactions, and empowerment and personal agency. Access to hands-on clinical opportunities along with meaningful relationships with mentors provide students with a sense of agency that can ultimately influence their career trajectory. Understanding student experiences is important for continuing to enhance participant engagement and foster sustainability of programs that support URiM students in their pursuit of medical professions.


Diversity, Medical Education, Mentorship, Pipeline Program, Underrepresentation

Author Bio(s)

Gurjit Sandhu, PhD is an Assistant Professor and Surgical Education Scientist in the Department of Surgery and Department of Learning Health Sciences at the University of Michigan Hospital and Health Systems. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: gurjit@umich.edu.

Emily N. Flagler, BS is a third-year medical student at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Kaustubh Prabhu, BS is a third-year medical student at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Paula T. Ross, PhD is the Director of Advancing Scholarship at the University of Michigan Medical School.

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