Addressing geographic disparities in dermatology through virtual educational outreach

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Haya Raef
Maribeth Hourihan
Jacob M MacDonald
Janell Lewis
Elizabeth V. Seiverling


pipeline, educational outreach, rural medicine, URM medicine, Underserved populations


Purpose: Rural areas face significant shortage of dermatologists. Rural origin is a strong indicator of eventual rural practice for physicians, however students of rural background account for less than 5% of all incoming medical students. Increasing representation of students with rural backgrounds is important to increase the supply of dermatologists in rural areas, which have higher skin cancer mortality rates compared to urban populations. We created a virtual educational outreach program for high school students in Maine, a predominately rural state, to create interest amongst high school students in pursuing a career in health care.

Methods: We developed a virtual pipeline program called the Inside Medicine Program that provides monthly educational workshops to high school students in Maine. For one of the sessions, we conducted a dermatology workshop teaching various topics in Dermatology. Pre- and post-curriculum surveys were sent to 33 students, which used a 10-point Likert scale to rate interest and perceived knowledge levels in these topics.

Results: After the workshop, 100% of respondents endorsed a greater understanding of the path to a dermatology career and 94.12% stated that they were interested in learning more about dermatology. Moreover, students endorsed greater interest in pursuing a career in dermatology and reported a significant increase in knowledge about various dermatologic topics.

Conclusions:  Our results suggest that our program has improved these students’ interest and perceived knowledge in dermatology. We hope that this will promote their subsequent entry into the medical field to address shortages in subspecialty care in rural areas. 


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