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[Perspectives] Kameron Matthews: reaching underserved patient populations

Tags: General

Family physician Kameron Matthews remembers meeting a college freshman with a passion for science and a near-perfect grade-point average to prove it. They met a few years ago during one of the campus bus tours Matthews organised to inspire students of colour to enter the health professions. The student's college adviser had discouraged her from becoming a doctor. “She didn't understand why”, said Matthews, who is Deputy Undersecretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) Office of Community Care in Washington, DC, USA. In 2012, Matthews co-founded the Tour for Diversity in Medicine (T4D) with Alden Landry, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at Harvard School of Medicine. They recruited African-American and Latino doctors, dentists, podiatrists, and pharmacists to visit US college campuses. Matthews and Landry have been on every trip. “A lot of these students get poor advice”, she said. T4D volunteers have mentored over 3500 students, including some at historically black colleges with no medical school or large health-care system nearby to help connect students to pipeline programmes and other resources dedicated to diversifying the medical professions. “The whole point is, if we're trying to diversify the health-care workforce, we need to reach students in their own environments”, Matthews explained.

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