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What Does URIM Mean?
URIM stands for “underrepresented in medicine.” UMass Pre-Med/Pre-Health Advising uses the abbreviation to encompass students who fall into any of the following categories:
- From racial or ethnic groups underrepresented in medicine and other health professions
- From economically disadvantaged backgrounds
- In the first generation of those in their family to attend college
Why Are There Unique Opportunities for URIM Students?
The short answer is that medical schools want to improve medical care. While, overall, medicine continues to advance, socioeconomic status and race still play a big part in predicting patient outcomes in the U.S. for a multitude of reasons, one being a lack of diverse physicians.
A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that “communities with high proportions of black and Hispanic residents were four times as likely as others to have a shortage of physicians.” The same study concluded that black and Hispanic physicians were far more likely to practice in these areas of high need. Another study at Johns Hopkins concluded that patients were more likely to speak longer with and feel satisfied by their interactions with physicians of similar racial and ethnic backgrounds.
That said, medical schools currently do not reflect the diversity in the U.S. well, with only 6 percent of graduates being Black or African American and 5 percent being Hispanic or Latino. Consequently, the purpose of programs for URIM students is to increase the pipeline of diverse students who are both passionate about and prepared for medical school. The long answer and lots of information about diversity in medicine can be found on the AAMC website.
Baccalaureate MD Pathway Program
The UMass BaccMD Pathway Program is a partnership between the UMass Medical School and the UMass system. It is a multiphase program offered to students who are from racial or ethnic groups underrepresented in medicine nationally or in Massachusetts, who come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, or who are first-generation-to-college students. The program offers academic and clinical immersion opportunities as well as support in preparing for the MCAT.
Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP)
The AAMC's SHPEP is a free (full tuition, housing, and meals) six-week summer medical and dental school preparatory program that offers eligible students intensive and personalized medical and dental school preparation. The programs include academic enrichment activities, clinical exposure, and other activities. The goal of the SHPEP is to strengthen the academic proficiency and career development of students underrepresented in the health professions and prepare them for a successful application and matriculation to health professions schools. Each of the thirteen program sites has different entrance criteria and all are interested in first- and second-year college students with a demonstrated interest in issues affecting underserved populations. Applications are competitive.
Louis Stoke Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP)
LSAMP provides funding to help support undergraduate research in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) laboratories with the ultimate goal of increasing the number of minority students entering graduate school. In addition to funding, students enjoy faculty mentorship as well as programming geared toward participants—seminars, speakers, and opportunities for students to present their research.
Additional On-Campus Support Systems
Students seeking additional mentorship resources should visit the Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success (CMASS). They offer peer mentoring, social connections, cultural enrichment, and help navigating the many offices at UMass. CNS students may also find support at the CNS Office of Student Success and Diversity. Resources include everything from one-on-one academic advising to success workshops.
Off-Campus Organizations That Support Diversity in Healthcare
ExploreHealthCareers.org offers links to a number of organizations that support and foster diversity—ranging from support for URIM students to women in medicine. They also connect to advocacy organizations that help to foster equality in healthcare across race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and more.