Introducing West Philadelphia High School Students to Careers in Neurosurgery

By Jonathan Waller

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, only 4.2% of neurosurgeons are Black, with an even smaller representation of Black women at 0.6% from a 2018 survey. But initiatives across the country aim to increase diversity in neurosurgery and other medical fields.

At Penn, for example, the Netter Center for Community Partnerships partnered with Penn Medicine to develop the Educational Pipeline Program to encourage high school students from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine to aspire to medical science careers.

The program works closely with the School of Veterinary Medicine, the Masters of Public Health Program, the Vagelos Program in Life Sciences & Management, and West Philadelphia high schools to provide mentorship and education for students while exposing them to a variety of careers in medicine, public health, research, management, and other healthcare-adjacent fields.

As part of the program, Zarina S. Ali, MD, MS, FAANS, chief of neurosurgery at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, recently hosted a day-long training event to introduce these high school students to the world of neurosurgery. In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, she emphasized that a big part of the solution to improving diversity in medicine is showing students that such a career is within their reach.

Read more about the program in the Philadelphia Inquirer story here.