Founded by resident physicians at Lurie Children’s, TeenDoc is a mentorship program for Chicago high school students who have been historically underrepresented in medical professions due to their race or ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, education or socioeconomic backgrounds.
At Lurie Children’s, we are committed to addressing discrimination in healthcare and building a workforce that is representative of the communities we serve. Introduced for the 2021-2022 school year, TeenDoc originated from the group of resident physician mentors who are part of the Lurie Children’s Resident Anti-Racism Committee and have a strong passion for increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in healthcare.
They recognized that connecting directly with students to offer one-on-one and group learning opportunities was one way to contribute to this mission on a local level. The TeenDoc program provides both educational and networking opportunities within the healthcare profession and, long-term, is working toward sustainable industry change. The goal is to contribute to the development of a medical workforce that more closely mirrors Chicago’s population demographics, improving health care accessibility and quality for all our service areas.
“There are numerous educational, economic, structural, and cultural barriers and inequities affecting underrepresented youth that make pursuing a healthcare career more challenging,” said Elyssa Cohen, MD, Lurie Children’s resident physician. “It is TeenDoc’s mission and goal that this mentorship program will provide a source of increased support, new mentorship opportunities, and bolster interest for underrepresented high school youth in Chicago who want to pursue a career in healthcare.”
In its inaugural year, 29 high school student mentees are partnered with 30 pediatric resident physician mentors. Each mentee and mentor are assigned to a cohort with four-five other mentees and four-five resident mentors in each group. The program has a longitudinal design, where mentoring takes place over the course of the mentees’ high school sophomore-senior years and the physicians’ first-third years of residency. Mentors and mentees attend monthly workshops focused on exploring different careers in healthcare, college and resume preparation, and a community health project.
“TeenDoc is amazing! This program is built off positivity and an interest in helping each other grow in order to have a future in healthcare. Thanks to TeenDoc, I am one step closer to my dream career,” said Katherine Santana, a student at Stephen T. Mather High School.
The mentorship program is conducted through Zoom this year due to public safety concerns from the pandemic, but the goal is to eventually allow the mentees to shadow the resident physicians in the hospital and clinic as well.
“Programs like TeenDoc are so vital in places like Chicago where diversity of students, learners, and young professionals as well as their backgrounds, resources, and opportunities is so varied. In a city where your health and outcomes can be accurately predicted simply by your ZIP Code, something as simple as seeing yourself represented in a field you are interested in can make an integral difference,” Meaghan Mormann, MD, second year resident physician. “It is so important that every young person have the opportunity to choose what they want to do in life and have someone of whom they can ask their questions and who will listen to their experience. Chicago is a city rich in diversity, cultural prowess, and imagination. TeenDoc is about forging relationships, strengthening passions, and encouraging dreamers. I couldn’t think of a better pairing.”
Improving the health and well-being of children and adolescents where they live, work and play is a critical part of our mission at Lurie Children’s. For decades, our experts have partnered closely with community-based organizations to link clinical work with grassroots knowledge and develop evidence-based initiatives to help communities thrive. TeenDoc was awarded a $10,000 grant from the Patrick M. Magoon Institute for Healthy Communities, the hub for all of Lurie Children’s community-focused initiatives.