Three Penn State College of Medicine students are seen sitting in an outdoor courtyard in fall 2019, laughing together. A laptop is open on a table in front of them.

Diversity, Equity and Belonging

Building a Strong Pipeline of Diversity

In support of Penn State College of Medicine’s commitment to increase the number of underrepresented populations in medicine, the college’s Office for Diversity Equity and Belonging has developed and implemented a number of programs to create a consistent pipeline of applicants.

Our goal is to increase the number physicians, researchers, and physician assistants from many underrepresented groups, including individuals from Hispanic/Latine, African American and Native American backgrounds, those with military/veteran backgrounds, individuals with disabilities, and individuals from sexual gender minority groups. To accomplish this, our programs intend to:

  • Increase K-12 and undergraduate student exposure to physicians, physician assistants, physician-scientists and researchers who are from diverse or underrepresented backgrounds. We know that students will begin to visualize their own future when they see successful individuals from backgrounds that are similar to their own.
Three students are in a brightly lit classroom. One student is standing, looking at a large video screen which displays an underwater image. The other two students are interacting with each other; one is sitting in a chair, using a virtual reality headset and the other is standing, observing and smiling.
STEM for students: Ashley Spence, right, laughs as classmate Tajha Johnson makes her way through the virtual undersea world during a visit to the Technology Innovation Sandbox in the Harrell Health Sciences Library at Penn State College of Medicine in 2018. Twenty-five students from the Milton Hershey School spent the day at the Penn State Health and College of Medicine campus for a regional STEM Goes Red event to empower young women to improve heart and brain health through pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
  • Increase readiness and preparation for the advanced education required to pursue these careers. We want to supplement classroom education with additional instruction in key content areas, as well as enhance learners’ social and professional skillsets to prepare for next steps in their careers.
  • Increase the number of diverse applicants to medical, research and physician assistant education programs.
  • Increase the number of diverse applicants matriculating into these programs.

Jump to: K-12 Programs | Undergraduate Programs | Graduate, PA and Residency/Fellowship | Get Involved

K-12 Programs

PULSE (Pre-health program for Underrepresented Leaders in STEM Education)

Who it's for: High school students (grades 9-12) from diverse backgrounds

What you'll do: Participate in a 12 week program at Penn State College of Medicine on Mondays, 4 to 6:30 p.m. Each session includes a lecture, small group learning experiences, and mentoring, as well as supplemental activities like laboratories, simulations, and student presentations.

Learn More about PULSE

Healthcare Career Exploration Program (HCEP)

Photo of a group of high school students in blue HCEP coats, surrounding the Nittany Lion statue in the courtyard at the Penn State College of Medicine.

Who it's for: High school seniors from diverse backgrounds who attend Central Dauphin, Central Dauphin East, Harrisburg, Hershey and Lower Dauphin high schools (restricted eligibility based on proximity to Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center).

What you'll do:

Daily observation, interactive seminars, problem-based learning sessions, and shadowing opportunities, during the spring semester of the senior year gives students opportunities to acquire knowledge through field-based observation, enhance critical thinking skills, and gain important information about educational options and career paths in medicine.
Learn More about HCEP

Emerging Health Care Professionals: Science of Surgery

Who it's for:  Penn State College of Medicine and Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts seek to inspire high school students from backgrounds that are underrepresented in medicine to consider careers in surgical fields.

What you’ll do: What you’ll do: Participate in classroom-based lessons as well as hands-on experiences to build exposure and excitement for careers in surgical fields as well as health care in general. This one-week day camp is held on the campus of Penn State Harrisburg and includes participation in Surgery Live! and a visit to Penn State College of Medicine.

Please check back in March for the online application!

Partnership with Harrisburg School District, Sci Tech High School

Who it's for: Students attending Sci Tech High School who are interested in careers in health care.

What you’ll do: Meet and speak with physicians, nurses, and professionals from underrepresented backgrounds that work in the Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health systems. These sessions are part of Sci Tech’s community partnership days.

Partnership with Milton Hershey School Health Sciences

Who it's for: High school students in the Health Sciences career pathway at the Milton Hershey School.

What you’ll do: Guest lecturers as well as experiences in the hospital and College of Medicine that are designed to supplement district curriculum and introduce students to successful professionals from underrepresented backgrounds.

Men In Medicine

Who it's for: Middle and high school students (grades 6 to 12) from diverse backgrounds.

What you’ll do: Local high school students will be selected to form a cohort that will meet periodically throughout the fall and spring semesters.  Participating students will learn about the pathway to careers in medicine, discuss important topics in healthcare, and learn some hands-on skills that they will then help to teach middle school students during a half-day event in fall and spring.

Please check back for the online application!

Undergraduate Programs

Partnerships with Minority Serving Institutions

The Penn State College of Medicine seeks to establish partnership with minority serving institutions to offer programming that creates opportunities for undergraduate pre-health students from underrepresented backgrounds to meet and network with Penn State Health and College of Medicine health care professionals from similar backgrounds.

Current partner schools:

  • Hampton University in Virginia
  • Jackson State University in Mississippi
  • Lincoln University of Pennsylvania
  • Xavier University of Louisiana

Undergraduate institutions interested in establishing partnerships, please contact diversityoutreach@pennstatehealth.psu.edu.

Med Talks

Medical school students from diverse backgrounds looking at a laptop and smiling during a virtual meeting with undergraduate students participating in the Talks with Docs program.

Who it's for: Med Talks is designed to inspire and encourage undergraduate students from backgrounds that are underrepresented in medicine to pursue careers in health care.

What you'll do: Meet and speak with current Penn State Health and College of Medicine physicians, researchers, and physician assistants, as well as current College of Medicine students. Speakers share their journey and provide insights and guidance based on their experiences, and participants have opportunities to ask individualized questions.

Career Spotlight Series

Who it's for: The Career Spotlight Series is designed to highlight specialties in medicine where workforce representation typically do not mirror the communities being served.

What you'll do: Learn from Penn State Health and Penn State College of Medicine experts about trending topics and pathways related to specialty areas of medicine. Current health care providers and researchers from underrepresented backgrounds will inspire and encourage undergraduate students from similar backgrounds to consider pursuing their specialty field in medicine.

Minorities in Medicine Weekend Workshops & In-Person Retreat

Who it's for: Minorities in Medicine is designed for undergraduate students who come from backgrounds that are historically underrepresented in medicine. The program aims to build a network of support as participants prepare to apply to medical/health professional programs.

What you'll do: Selected students will participate in monthly virtual educational and mentorship sessions from October through March. Students who attend at least 80% of the virtual sessions will be eligible to attend an in-person retreat at Penn State College of Medicine (pending impact of travel and visitation guidelines or restrictions that may be in place at the time of the planned retreat).  

Student National Medical Association (SNMA) & Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students (MAPS)

Who it's for: Future medical students from underrepresented backgrounds. MAPS represents the undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students of SNMA. MAPS members are considered national association members and make up about one third of SNMA's membership.

What you'll do: Participate in an annual MAPS conference every summer at Penn State College of Medicine, with access to KAPLAN MCAT test prep courses and panel discussions related to medical school admissions and health disparities; also, potentially start your own MAPS program at your undergraduate institution.

Learn More about SNMA and MAPS

Summer Undergraduate Research Internship Program (SURIP)

Student participants in the Summer Undergraduate Research Internship Program, or SURIP, at Penn State College of Medicine are seen in 2018. The large group of students is pictured standing in a courtyard at the College of Medicine, with trees, grass and a white building in the background and a statute of the Penn State Nittany Lion mascot in front of them.

Who it's for: Students who’ve completed at least two years of college and are interested in pursuing a career in the biological sciences. This program is appropriate for students considering applying to PhD programs, not medical school.

What you'll do: What you'll do: Work in a basic or clinical research laboratory for a 10-week summer session in Hershey. Potential research includes bioinformatics, bioengineering, imaging, clinical research, and public health.

Learn More about SURIP

Graduate, PA, Residency/Fellowship Programs

In addition to the MD program, the Penn State College of Medicine offers advanced degrees in biomedical and basic sciences, a physician assistant program and numerous residency and fellowship programs. The pipeline seeks to incorporate opportunities for exposure of each program offered in order to increase the diversity of the applicant pool and matriculating student body.

Get involved

Students, school counselors and pre-health advisors: Are you interested in receiving updates about the diversity pipeline programs? Go to http://eepurl.com/hkodMv to sign up for periodic emails regarding our programs and initiatives.

Penn State Health and College of Medicine faculty/staff: Your support helps build the pipeline! Diversity pipeline programs are structured experiences for students from underrepresented backgrounds in grades K-12 and undergraduate programs that spark interest in pursuing careers in medicine. There are many ways to support our diversity pipeline programs, from speaking engagements and lectures to hosting clinic tours and shadowing opportunities. Click here to share your interest – our program director will follow up with more information.

Giving: If you wish to make a financial contribution to support pipeline programs please contact Tiffany Brandt-Thomas at tbrandtthomas@pennstatehealth.psu.edu. If you would like to make an impact by supporting students through our Educational Equity scholarships visit engage.pennstatehealth.org/EdEquity.