Today, only 4.4% of practicing urologists identify as Hispanic/LatinX, 2.4% as Black/African-American and 10.9% as female. These numbers lag far behind the demographics of the urology patient population.
To address the disparity between the urological workforce and the needs of urology patients, there have been great strides to develop mentorship programs within urology. Working in a urology clinic as a medical student, you quickly learn that urology requires creating a safe space in the clinic to discuss topics that can often be stigmatizing such as incontinence and sex. We both got involved in UroVersity leadership during our second year of medical school because of the persistent racial disparities in urological diseases and believe that every patient should have an opportunity to receive care from a provider that they feel comfortable with.
UroVersity is a student-led, multi-level mentorship program that aims to increase diversity, equity and inclusion within the field of urology. This program was created by Dr. Kristian Black, a PGY-3 in the Department of Urology, to address the lack of representation and opportunities for underrepresented groups in urology and other surgical specialties.
Each year, we welcome a handful of students from underrepresented ethnic/racial backgrounds, low-income backgrounds and students who identify as LGBTQ+ to engage in a longitudinal mentorship program. Students are provided with mentorship and guidance starting in their first year of medical school from both faculty and resident mentors and maintain these connections throughout their time here at the University of Michigan Medical School. Through the program, students have an opportunity to explore the field of urology and connect with mentors who can provide them with guidance and support as they navigate medical school and The Match.
In addition, UroVersity provides opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience and exposure to the field. This includes structured shadowing opportunities in the clinic and the operating room prior to starting clerkship year, and a skills-based curriculum so students can excel on their first day of their surgical rotation. These opportunities allow students to develop a deeper understanding of what life as a urologist looks like. UroVersity also works with students and faculty to provide opportunities for research, and several of our second-year students have presented at urological conferences. These experiences allow students to develop relationships within urology while also increasing their competitiveness for the Match.
In 2022, UroVersity also worked to increase DEI efforts within the medical education pipeline by working with the Black Undergraduate Medical Association (BUMA). BUMA and UroVersity partnered to set up a surgery open house event, where undergraduate students met with faculty and residents from surgical sub-specialties including urology, ENT and orthopedics. This event helped introduce BUMA students to surgical specialties and dispelled misconceptions that could prevent students from pursuing these careers. UroVersity’s mission is to increase student awareness of the field of urology, and our hope is to continue to provide opportunities for students at both the undergraduate and medical school level.
UroVersity is just one program within the Department of Urology that seeks to improve diversity, equity and inclusion. We are grateful to our mentors and the Department of Urology DEI Task Force for their continued support of our program. Our structured mentorship program, along with the guidance and opportunities that it provides, will help diversify the urology workforce and help our students make informed decisions about their careers. By increasing representation within our field, we hope to bring new perspectives, ideas and solutions to the table to improve patient care and address significant health care disparities.
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Laura Zebib is a third-year medical student at the University of Michigan. She was born and raised in South Florida where she completed her undergraduate studies in biology and public health, and graduate training in geospatial technology at the University of Miami. She then went on to pursue a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology and Forced Migration at Columbia University. While in medical school, she became deeply passionate about increasing the workforce diversity within urology. She is the current UroVersity Co-Coordinator and hopes to expand the services and support UroVersity can offer their students. Her research interests include applying GIS systems and QI tools to understand disparities in urological disease, incarceration and health, and refugee health. In her free time, she enjoys shopping for vintage clothing, backpacking and cooking.
Sarosh Irani is a third-year medical student at the University of Michigan. Originally from Metro Detroit, MI, he holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Public Health and a Bachelor’s of Public Affairs from Wayne State University. At UroVersity, he serves as the mentorship and curriculum coordinator, where he helps set up mentorship, shadowing and research opportunities for the M1s and M2s. Sarosh also sits on both the Student Council and Student Diversity Council, where he advocates for increased representation of a diverse student body and an emphasis on mental health and wellness. His academic interests include disparities in access to urologic care and the health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In his free time, Sarosh enjoys good coffee shops, urban photography and traveling.