The mission of PrIMES is to reduce the healthcare education diversity gap through a targeted mentorship program between current and prospective URiM (Underrepresented Minorities in Medicine) medical students. PrIMES was co-founded in 2018 by Dr. Caitlin Hoffman, MD, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian and the Department of Neurosurgery Diversity Champion, and Benjamin Hartley, MD, MS, who was then a neurosurgery resident at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian; he is also a former Teach for America 2009 corps member.
Ethnic and racial diversity in medical school student bodies is essential to solving the health care disparity crisis in the United States. Despite the national imperative to increase participation of under-represented groups in medicine (URiM), students from disenfranchised demographics make up a small fraction of medical school graduates. Only 6% of graduates in 2015 were Black or African American, and 5% were Hispanic; in 1974, these figures were almost identical.
To tackle this issue, we created PrIMES (Program for Individualized Mentorship Education Solutions), a longitudinal, targeted, near-peer mentorship system, designed by cross-referencing American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) benchmarks with quantitative analyses of focus groups involving URiM students. The program pairs college students from underrepresented demographics who are interested in medicine with current medical students. Together, the duos progress through a comprehensive curriculum, using novel tracking tools to assess and record mastery of targeted objectives along the way.
PrIMES has made significant improvements in URM readiness for successful medical school application and matriculation and is now recruiting for its next Mentor-Mentee Cohort. Going forward, we hope to expand the program nationally to peer institutions, such that all students can have equal opportunity to pursue a medical education, regardless of their racial or ethnic background.
Meet the Program Manager
Christin Smith, PrIMES program manager, is dedicated to advocating for underrepresented, marginalized individuals. Prior to joining the PrIMES team, Christin served as executive director of a non-profit Housing Coalition, operating a homeless shelter as well as transitional and affordable housing facilities. She was co-author and project director of Going Places, a grant-funded Community Innovation Zone initiative focused on prenatal-third grade systems alignment in disadvantaged neighborhoods in rural Pennsylvania. She has also provided counseling and support to low-to-moderate income mother-baby dyads with the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program as a Certified Lactation Counselor. Christin received her bachelor’s degree in Communications from Pennsylvania State University, University Park, in 2004, with dual minors in business and information systems.