Diversity Summer Fellowship

AHNS Myers Family Minority Fellowship Experience
Frantzlee LaCrete
Going into M2 year at University of Nebraska Medical Center

The AHNS Myers Family Minority Fellowship was a very rewarding and fulfilling program to participate in! I was so blessed to be selected as a recipient for the program. The program was enjoyable and provided a good insight of how life would be as a fourth-year medical student, as a resident, as a fellow, and a little bit into the life of an attending. The program really put the whole medical journey into a big picture perspective of the future.

I was a participant of Dr. Myers’ team for the summer. His team consisted of one resident, one fellow, several mid-level providers (PAs and NPs), and two or three attending physicians. A typical day consisted of morning rounds at 5:45 AM with the resident and the fellow on the team. If there was a meeting, such as chairman rounds, that was attended before clinic or the operating room (OR). Then if Dr. Myers was in the hospital, I would then proceed to follow him in the OR or in the clinic. If Dr. Myers wasn’t in the hospital then I was able to tailor my schedule to what I wanted to experience whether it be watching an interesting surgery or trying to expand my clinic skills, but I usually tried to follow the resident or fellow’s team assignment for the day. It was nice to be able to tailor my schedule that way. This allows for the participant to get out of the program what the participant puts into the program. After the assigned duties were completed, the last task was to round out or see consults with the resident or fellow to finish the day. On Thursdays, I ended the day by attending tumor board at 4:45 PM. Tumor board is a meeting with a variety of specialists talking about the best care plan for each new patient to MD Anderson.

While at MD Anderson, I learned how to prepare for the day in clinic for when I am going into my clerkships as a M3. I learned different ways of approaching patients to keeping them satisfied or even delivering bad or hard news to the patient. One aspect I enjoyed is when the resident I worked with had me follow one post operation patient. Then I presented the patient to the resident before we entered the patient’s room. I then received feedback on my presentation. By receiving this feedback, I was able to further hone my clinical presentation skills. I think this was a valuable learning tool and I think this should almost be implemented into the summer curriculum. I was also able to get one article out for a potential publication and hopefully will be working on research this school year.

I have several suggestions about the AHNS Myers Family Diversity Fellowship to improve the program in my opinion. The changes that I think should be made are to have further clarification of the program, more aid on living locations in Houston, and earlier initiation of research projects.

The program does not have a set curriculum and I think that is okay, but I think it should be clarified that the program is very self-directed and tailored to what the participant wants to experience. The participant should have clarity that the program start date is dependent on when MD Anderson is able to process all of your information, which is 4 to 6 weeks after the participant submits all of their appropriate information. MD Anderson is a government facility and has more paper work and clearances the facility needs to complete in order to allow access to participants. I think the location of the program should be provided before the participant is selected, as I was initially told that I was able to pick my own location and mentor for the program.

As far as the housing situation, I am unsure of how to provide constructive criticism. I can only speak on my own experience of finding housing coming from a person that has never been to Houston and lives in Nebraska. Maybe knowing the location of the program before the participant selection would help finding living locations. For me, finding housing was a challenge in the beginning. I tried finding something in walking distance, but all the options were at least $2,500 a month for something furnished. I was recommended one housing option (Texas Medical Center Apartments), but was told they only allow 6-month leases. I tried finding apartments to sublease, but was having no luck, as I did not know anyone. I was fortunate enough to find a place with a University of Nebraska Medical Center alumnus. If I didn’t find that housing, I would have had no idea what to do for housing. Again, maybe clarifying the location before the program starts would help alleviate some of these challenges.

I think that finding research projects earlier would help get participants experience with research, which is valuable. In retrospect, I should have been a little more persistent about finding research to work on earlier. I was hoping to have a research project mostly done by the time I was finished with the program. Instead I was just starting research, as I was finishing up the program and losing my MD Anderson access before we can completely get the ball rolling on the research project. Now I am hoping I can even participate in the research project that will be performed. I think initiating the research project earlier would work out better. Maybe reiterating that the program is self-directed would help the participant know that they are responsible for getting that ball rolling?

Overall, I think that the program was rewarding and provides great connections and networking opportunities for the future. I think that it is okay that there is not set curriculum and that the program is self-directed. To reiterate my suggestions, clarifying the program is in Houston for 6-weeks with the timing depending on when the institution will allow you to come. Make sure the participant’s summer schedule is flexible with the timing MD Anderson allows. The second suggestion would be to provide a couple more options for housing for those not really familiar to Houston. Lastly, to initiate research projects earlier and implement assigning one patient a week to have the participant present to the resident or fellow in morning rounds.