Breaking boundaries through Doctors Reaching Minority Men Exploring Neuroscience: a mentorship model to foster a pipeline for underrepresented minorities

Ian T. McNeill, Alejandro Carrasquilla, Zerubabbel K. Asfaw, Ernest J. Barthélemy, Alyson Mehr, Kenya D. Townsend, Alexander Joseph, Joshua B. Bederson, Gary C. Butts, Isabelle M. Germano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE In 2015, the Association of American Medical Colleges report titled "Altering the Course: Black Males in Medicine"showed a decline in the number of Black men matriculating into medical school. To alter this trend, the authors' hypothesis was that formally exposing Black men to the clinical neurosciences during high school would enhance their chances of entering the physician workforce. For this reason, in 2007, the Doctors Reaching Minority Men Exploring Neuroscience (DR. MMEN) program was established at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. The program aimed to provide early exposure, mentorship, and inspiration to high school-age Black and Latinx men. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of the DR. MMEN program in the context of the recent race and ethnicity trends among medical school matriculants (MSMs). METHODS Association of American Medical Colleges data on MSMs stratified by race and ethnicity were reviewed for the period between 2015 and 2020. Data pertinent to the academic achievements of DR. MMEN participants, such as matriculation to college and/or medical school, were prospectively tracked and incorporated with mixed-methods exit assessment data. Qualitative responses were coded and analyzed using a thematic concept analysis method. RESULTS Over the study period, the increase of MSMs in the US was 1.0% and 1.7% for Black and Latinx individuals, respectively. Changes for the male MSM cohort were negligible: 0.3% for Black and 0.7% for Latinx. With respect to DR. MMEN, 42% of participants from 2017 to 2019 earned college scholarships, and 25% of students from the 2017-2018 cohort matriculated to a combined college-medical program. Survey data showed that 100% of DR. MMEN participants found the program useful. Analysis of qualitative data revealed that participants considered pursuing a career in neurosurgery or in another medical field. Diligence and a passion for medicine were identified as the top two most important lessons in the program, and witnessing patient satisfaction and observing a neurosurgery operation were described as the most important experiences. Participants considered availability to give advice and feedback and a passion for teaching as the principal attributes of their mentors. CONCLUSIONS Over the past 6 years, the slight increase in Black and Latinx MSMs has not been significant enough to remedy ethnoracial disparities among MSMs. In particular, Black male matriculation to medical school has remained stagnant. The DR. MMEN program is a promising model to inspire young scholars and improve diversity within neuroscience and medicine at large.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-539
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • academic pipeline
  • diversity
  • mentorship
  • underrepresented minorities in medicine


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