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Diversifying medicine

Hannah Valantine, MD, has received a $400,000 grant through the stimulus program aimed at broadening the diversity of the country's academic medical centers. The grant will enable 14 fourth-year minority medical students from throughout the country to complete four-week visiting rotations at Stanford in the field of their choice.

Hannah Valantine, MDWhile internships of this sort are common, this one is unique because it's designed to help improve the medical careers of underprivileged, under-represented minority students, who might not otherwise have been able to afford to attend.

Under-represented minorities make up less than 7 percent of the faculty at the nation's academic medical centers and even fewer are translational scientists who can turn research findings into effective treatments for their patients. Studies have shown that when patients are treated by physicians of a similar ethnic background, the communication and quality of care are better.

Valantine, the senior associate dean for diversity and leadership at Stanford's medical school, noted that one of the goals behind the stimulus program is to create "jobs that will make a lasting difference for our future," which is what the visiting rotation program will accomplish. Additionally, the program will also help stimulate the economy in the short term by creating new jobs for a program coordinator and support staff.