Dr. Larsen Awarded Grants to Boost Diversity in Neurosurgery

Alexandra Giantini Larsen, MD, a fourth-year resident in neurosurgery, has been awarded grants from the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) and NewYork-Presbyterian’s Health Justice in Action (HJA) Fund. Both grants are in support of Dr. Larsen’s efforts to increase diversity in neurosurgery by reaching out to high school students to encourage and motivate them toward careers in medicine.

Under the mentorship of Dr. Caitlin Hoffman, the Department of Neurosurgery’s diversity and inclusion champion, Dr. Larsen has designed a summer program for high school students with an interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). “Increasing ethnic and racial diversity in neurosurgery is paramount to rectifying health care disparities and decreasing health inequity,” says Dr. Giantini Larsen. “It is vital we cultivate a workforce that is representative of the patients that we treat.”

“As international leaders in the field, we take very seriously our responsibility to train the next generation of neurosurgeons,” says Dr. Philip E. Stieg, the Margaret and Robert J. Hariri, MD ’87, PhD ’87 Professor of Neurological Surgery, Chairman of Neurological Surgery, and Neurosurgeon-in-Chief of NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. “I’m delighted by these grants, which recognize the important work Dr. Hoffman and Dr. Larsen are doing to deliver on our commitment to foster diversity, to ensure that future neurosurgeons better represent the populations we serve.”

Dr Caitlin Hoffman speaks at East Harlem School, March 2023

Dr. Caitlin Hoffman spoke to students at East Harlem School on March 9, 2023, about careers in medicine. East Harlem School is one of the schools that will send students to the summer program funded by Dr. Giantini Larsen's grant awards.

The summer program consists of two parts, starting with a one-day intensive session funded by the Dalio Center for Health Justice and NYPH Graduate Medical Education “Health Justice in Action” award. The Congress of Neurological Surgeons’ “DEI Pilot Project Award in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” will fund the following four weeks of the program. The programs are focused on exposure to neurosurgery for New York City public high school students from groups traditionally underrepresented in medicine. Both programs will have a lecture, practical, and mentorship component, and will focus on keeping these students in the pipeline toward medical education.

Students will be paired with near-peer mentors (junior attendings, residents, and medical students), to provide ongoing support. The programs aim to address current disparities in access to medical education by targeting modifiable factors, including exposure, connections, dispelling misconceptions, and knowledge of the application process, within a local pipeline cohort.

The curriculum will be based on a modified version of the PRiMES mentorship program, which was founded by Dr. Hoffman and former resident Benjamin Hartley, MD, in 2018.  PRiMES was designed to mentor college students to help them prepare for successful application and matriculation into medical school.

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