Low-income students who enter medical or doctoral degree programs may encounter academic and personal challenges that more advantaged students do not face. These challenges can lead to attrition. To prepare low-income students for future success and leadership as physicians or biomedical research professionals, in 2015 we initiated a new post-baccalaureate Doctoral Diversity Program (DDP) for recent college graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds.  This program, directed by Dr. Deidra Crews (Associate Professor of Medicine/physician-scientist), admits 5-8 scholars per year interested in pursuing MD, MD/PhD, PhD, and other health and biomedical research careers.

Structure: DDP Scholars experience four core activities: Research, Health Care Community, Professional Training, and Personal Growth.

Research: Each DDP Scholar conducts research in their chosen faculty mentor’s basic, clinical, or translational research laboratory, with day-to-day guidance by an experienced PhD student or postdoc. Scholars participate fully in the scientific and intellectual life of the lab, including weekly lab meetings and departmental seminars. Scholars present a research poster at our summer SARE/DDP symposium. Over 30 experienced Hopkins faculty are available as mentors for CSM SIP and DDP scholars. By the second year of the program, most DDP scholars also present their work at national or international scientific meetings (e.g. poster presentations), and many publish their research in scientific journals (see Publications).

Healthcare Community: In addition to their research mentor, Scholars form lasting multi-generational scientific and social bonds with the DDP community at Hopkins. Participants meet monthly for coffee or lunch and discussions with DDP Faculty. DDP Scholars also meet healthcare role models through weekly ‘Lunch and Learn’ talks during the summer.
DDP scholars receive opportunities to shadow physicians at Johns Hopkins. To date, scholars have shadowed physicians in fields including: general internal medicine, pediatrics, neurology, bariatric surgery, pulmonary/critical care medicine, nephrology, cardiothoracic surgery and others. DDP scholars also annually participate in a surgical simulation training session at the Hopkins Minimally Invasive Surgery Training and Innovation Center (MiSTIC).

Professional Training: Scholars take Kaplan GRE or MCAT preparation courses, if needed. The DDP scholars will also participate in workshops to improve their speaking skills, and improve their inter-personal skills to better understand their own strengths and ‘blind spots’ when interacting with others (offered by our Professional Development Office). Scholars improve their writing by taking a biomedical communication class, specifically prepared for the DDP by Dr. Sarah Poynton, a biomedical writing specialist. Some DDP scholars also take courses, specifically related to their research work, at our School of Medicine or Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Personal Growth: Scholars benefit from peer mentorship and guidance from the DDP Director during monthly ‘Coffee Breaks’ inclusive of small groups of DDP scholars. Scholars also meet individually with the DDP Director to identify specific areas to strengthen. The scholar and research mentor form strong, productive bonds that foster the scholar’s growth. The scholars also join a longitudinal mentor group, which is led by a CSM faculty member. This group provides yet another opportunity for network building and mentorship that benefits the scholar as they move forward with their career.