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Become a member and receive career-enhancing benefits

Our top priority is providing value to members. Your Member Services team is here to ensure you maximize your ACS member benefits, participate in College activities, and engage with your ACS colleagues. It's all here.

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Bulletin Brief

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

January 25, 2022

An ACS Pipeline Partnership with the Posse Foundation—Surgical Mentor Opportunities Available

by Patricia M. Byers, ACS Board of Governors Diversity Pillar

The Posse Foundation was founded in New York, New York, in 1989 in response to a recognition that underrepresented minorities attending prestigious colleges and universities faced challenges that were impeding graduation. Further study demonstrated that a sense of isolation and lack of inclusiveness contributed to these failures. Operating on the idea that sending a group of 10 students together to college would create a support system for them, the Posse Foundation program positively impacted the graduation rate, which now is greater than 90%, in contrast to 59% for the average underrepresented minority college student.

The Posse Foundation was founded in New York, New York, in 1989 in response to a recognition that underrepresented minorities attending prestigious colleges and universities faced challenges that were impeding graduation. Further study demonstrated that a sense of isolation and lack of inclusiveness contributed to these failures. Operating on the idea that sending a group of 10 students together to college would create a support system for them, the Posse Foundation program positively impacted the graduation rate, which now is greater than 90%, in contrast to 59% for the average underrepresented minority college student.

I became aware of the Posse Foundation more than 5 years ago and was an opportunity to involve their STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) students in a surgical shadowing program that might increase the entry of these talented students into a surgical training pipeline. The ACS has made a commitment to increasing diversity in surgery. In this context, Rob Winfield, MD, FACS, Past-Chair, ACS Young Fellows Association (YFA), Amelia Grover, MD, FACS, Chair of the ACS Committee on Diversity Issues, and I developed a proposal for a Shadowing in Surgery program that would enable interested ACS Fellows living in Posse cities to champion these shadowing opportunities and partner with their local Posse offices.

Dr. Winfield presented this proposal to the ACS Regents in 2019. The program was approved to move forward via the YFA. We believed that this was a new program that needed a road map for promulgation. Since the connections with Miami Posse were already in place, a pilot program was developed at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Dewitt-Daughtry Department of Surgery, Florida, with STEM students from Posse Miami to take place over winter break in 2019. Each Posse college scholar was assigned to shadow several faculty members. Both the program and the field of surgery received favorable reviews. We plan to revisit this program again this winter as a virtual experience due to COVID-19 restrictions.

We have many opportunities to use this best practice in the field of medicine and particularly in surgery. Shadowing opportunities and student experiences could be structured by ACS surgeon champions in any of the Posse cities that have STEM programs. I have outlined the five easy steps (see following table) needed to establish such a program at your institution.

Five Steps to a Posse "Shadowing in Surgery" Program

  1. Find a program coordinator who can be a contact for the Posse Office, the scholars, and your faculty team.
  2. Get a team of 5 to 10 interested surgical faculty colleagues who want to participate in the shadowing program. Demographic and specialty diversity is advised when possible.
  3. Contact your local Posse Office and STEM program director to assist you in finding interested STEM scholars and dates they will be in town. (We used the 2 to 3 weeks over the winter holiday break.)
  4. Create a mix-and-match schedule for the students based on faculty availability. We found that exposing each scholar to different faculty members on different days was most effective.
  5. Circulate a feedback form to the scholars to see what they liked, what could have been done better, and how they viewed surgery as a potential career pathway.

Also, follow any of your institutional protocols for such an activity. Summer research opportunities and mentoring could be offered to college students. In addition, medical schools could partner with Posse for scholarships and admissions that would use the Posse concept to decrease the "leaky pipeline" that we see in medical education.

I am available to answer any other questions regarding our shadowing pilot at pbyers@miami.edu.

More about the Posse Foundation

The success of the Posse Foundation is a result of the fact that all selected Posse Scholars have two supportive trainers that work intensely with them in their senior year of high school to assist with pre-collegiate training, including weekly workshops. Once in college, a faculty member from the college is assigned to each group of 10 as the Posse Mentor. This faculty member meets with the group weekly and individually with the students periodically to check in on any issues that might arise during their freshman and sophomore years. In addition, the mentors automatically receive copies of grades and assign tutors as needed. There is ongoing communication between the Trainer and the Posse Mentor to monitor the scholar's personal and academic progress. As a reflection of the success of this program, many of the Posse alumni go on to obtain graduate degrees.

The Posse Foundation is committed to the principle that some of our country's most significant challenges can be solved by changing the face of leadership. The organization identifies, recruits, and trains individuals with leadership potential and awards them full-tuition scholarships from Posse's partner colleges and universities. Home programs have been established in 10 cities and virtual programs in 10 additional cities across the US. The Foundation has awarded $1.6 billion in scholarships and identified 10,000 scholars to date. The recent expansion of virtual programs will help to increase this number. In addition, 63 partner colleges and universities participate in the Posse scholarship program annually.

Additional information regarding the Posse Foundation and their programs can be found at Possefoundation.org. You also can contact a Posse program near you:

Posse Foundation: Contact Us

View the following table to see cities that host physician or virtual Posse Foundation offices.

Posse Cities

Offices

Virtual

Atlanta

Charlotte

Bay Area

Cleveland

Boston

Dallas

Chicago

Denver

D.C.

Memphis

Houston

Newark

Los Angeles

Philadelphia

Miami

Phoenix

New Orleans

And select cities in Indiana, Minnesota, and Virginia

New York