DiversityNursing Blog

Second American Infected With Ebola

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Jul 28, 2014 @ 12:28 PM

By Joe Sutton and Holly Yan

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A second American aid worker in Liberia has tested positive for Ebola, according to the Christian humanitarian group she works for.

Nancy Writebol is employed by Serving in Mission, or SIM, in Liberia and was helping the joint SIM/Samaritan's Purse team that is treating Ebola patients in Monrovia, according to a Samaritan's Purse statement.

Writebol, who serves as SIM's personnel coordinator, has been living in Monrovia with her husband, David, according to SIM's website. The Charlotte, North Carolina, residents have been in Liberia since August 2013, according to the blog Writebols2Liberia. They have two adult children.

On Saturday, Samaritan's Purse announced that American doctor Kent Brantly had become infected. The 33-year-old former Indianapolis resident had been treating Ebola patients in Monrovia and started feeling ill, spokeswoman Melissa Strickland said. Once he started noticing the symptoms last week, Brantly isolated himself.

Brantly, the medical director for Samaritan Purse's Ebola Consolidated Case Management Center in Monrovia, has been in the country since October, Strickland said.

"When the Ebola outbreak hit, he took on responsibilities with our Ebola direct clinical treatment response, but he was serving in a missionary hospital in Liberia prior to his work with Ebola patients," she said.

Deadliest Ebola outbreak

Health officials say the Ebola outbreak, centered in West Africa, is the deadliest ever.

As of July 20, some 1,093 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia are thought to have been infected by Ebola since its symptoms were first observed four months ago, according to the World Health Organization.

Testing confirmed the Ebola virus in 786 of those cases; 442 of those people died.

Of the 1,093 confirmed, probable and suspected cases, 660 people have died.

There also are fears the virus could spread to Africa's most populous country, Nigeria.

Last week, a Liberian man hospitalized with Ebola in Lagos died, Nigerian Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said.

Lagos, the largest city in Nigeria, has a population of more than 20 million.

The man arrived at Lagos airport on July 20 and was isolated in a local hospital after showing symptoms associated with the virus. He told officials he had no direct contact with anyone with the virus nor had he attended the burial of anyone who died of Ebola.

Another doctor infected

Confirmation of the death in Lagos came after news that a doctor who has played a key role in fighting the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone is infected with the disease, according to that country's Ministry of Health.

Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan is being treated by the French aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres -- also known as Doctors Without Borders -- in Kailahun, Sierra Leone, agency spokesman Tim Shenk said.

Before falling ill, Khan had been overseeing Ebola treatment and isolation units at Kenema Government Hospital, about 185 miles east of the capital, Freetown.

Ebola typically kills 90% of those infected, but the death rate in this outbreak has dropped to roughly 60% because of early treatment.

Spread by bodily fluids

Officials believe the Ebola outbreak has taken such a strong hold in West Africa because of the proximity of the jungle -- where the virus originated -- to Conakry, Guinea, which has a population of 2 million.

Because symptoms don't immediately appear, the virus can easily spread as people travel around the region. Once infected with the virus, many people die in an average of 10 days as the blood fails to clot and hemorrhaging occurs.

The disease isn't contagious until symptoms appear. Symptoms include fever, headache and fatigue. At that point, the Ebola virus is spread via bodily fluids.

Health workers are at especially high risk, because they are in close contact with infected people and their bodily fluids. Adding to the danger, doctors may mistake the initial stages of an Ebola infection for another, milder illness.

Source: www.cnn.com

Topics: virus, World Health Organization, Ebola, outbreak, West Africa, deadly, infected, doctor

Don't Call Me Just a Nurse

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Fri, Sep 13, 2013 @ 10:43 AM

By 

In the first year of my career as a registered nurse, I continued my education, wrapping up my bachelor's degree in nursing, not yet a requirement to work as an RN but a well-worth-it continuation of a degree to make you a more well-rounded and, to be honest, respected nurse. One of the requirements for this degree was a course called "Professional Issues and Trends." The course explored the profession of nursing, barriers it is facing, and the way that we, as nurses, can change that. I learned many things in that course, but the most important, the thing that has stuck with me the most, was this:

A few days into the course, our professor made one thing very clear: Each and every one of us, from that moment on, needed to remove "just a nurse" from our vocabulary.

"Are you a doctor?"

"No, I'm just a nurse."

I have spent six years since trying to avoid that phrase. More so, I have worked to avoid that feeling. I work hard at what I do, but I am often aware that my friends and family have no concept of what nursing is. I don't bring you to your room at the doctor's office, sit you on the table, and check your normal blood pressure, then go and get the doctor. Instead, I am often in a room with a small child on a ventilator, multiple intravenous medications infusing through central lines keeping the vascular system constricted or dilated. I monitor blood gases and adjust ventilator settings accordingly. If the blood pressure goes too high, I adjust the medications related to these values. I keep my patient adequately sedated and paralyzed, for their safety, without over-medicating them. It is often my responsibility to determine this balance.

Recently, I had a nearly 2-year-old patient who pulled his own breathing tube out in the early morning. We weren't sure whether he would do okay without it, so I monitored his respiratory status closely all morning. By mid-afternoon, he seemed to be doing well enough. By then his sedation had worn off and he had no interest in staying in bed. Concerned that he would harm himself moving around through multiple IV and arterial lines, plus a BiPap machine, and monitor leads, I decided to hold him. He had no family present but needed close to a dozen IV medications over the next five hours. I collected them all and lined them on his bed. I pulled his syringe pump that would be used for the medications off of the IV pole and placed it on the bed in front of me. I lifted him out of bed and onto my lap, into my arms. For five hours we rocked and I held him close. He stared into my eyes, played with my hair with his one arm, tried to suck his thumb through IV sites and arm boards. I gave his medications one by one until the nurse who would relieve me for the oncoming shift came in.

I'm not just a nurse. I am a nurse. I can over the course of the 12-hours shift go from interpreting serial blood gases to comforting a sick child while continuing to monitor vital signs, respiratory status, and administer medications.

I am the eyes, hands, and feet of the physician. I am not their eye candy or their inferior. I don't stand up when they enter to room. I don't follow their orders, I discuss the pathophysiology of the patient's condition with them, and together we make a plan. Often the things I suggest are the course of action we take, and other times I learn something new I had not understood from this doctor. They don't talk down to me; we discuss things together.

I had an experience this weekend, one of the first of its kind for me, and I was surprised by how angry and affected by it I was.

A friend cut their arm and hours later still struggled to stop the bleeding. I assessed the wound and created a pressure dressing out of the supplies you have available in a frat house cottage. I reluctantly informed the friend that the wound would likely need a stitch or glue. It wasn't large, but it was deep and wide and would likely heal poorly, if at all, and even if it didn't become infected would leave a decent scar. I am not one to jump to big medical interventions; if anything, I ride the line of noncompliant and under-concerned.

My opinion was shared but another guest, a doctor, decided it would probably be fine with a Band-Aid and heal without issues. He may be right, or I may be right. But a close family friend who I have known almost my entire life chimed in.

"No offense, Kateri," he said, "But obviously we're going with the doctor over the nurse for this one."

"You're just a nurse," he might as well have said, although he didn't.

I felt like I had been smacked in the back by a two-by-four. My best friend knew this would be my reaction and turned in horror as the color left my face and the posture left my shoulders. Something inside of me sunk.

The following day I struggled to understand why I was still upset. Surely he had no idea what his words had meant, or how they felt. But over lunch the following day, as I discussed my new job with my family, it became clear. My job is so much, and so much of it is misunderstood. And maybe this is no one's fault but my own. Sure, I'm a nurse. Yup, some days are sad. Yeah, blood and poop don't bother me.

But that's all I say. I don't tell you what I really do. And the media definitely doesn't either. Nurse friends, help me out here. Maybe it's time that we stop pretending we are less than we are, that we do less than we do.

I came across the following blurb this morning. I wrote it a few years ago for Nurse's Day, and it rings as true today as it did then. I may not be a doctor, but I am a nurse. And if you are someone whose mind says "just a nurse" please, go ahead and ask the nurse you know best what it is that they do. I think you may be surprised.

I am a nurse. I didn't become a nurse because I couldn't cut it in med school or failed organic chemistry, but rather because I chose this. I work to maintain my patient's dignity through intimate moments, difficult long term decisions, and heartbreaking situations. I share in the joy of newly-born babies and miraculously-cured diseases. I share in the heartbreak of a child taken too soon, a disease too powerful, a life changed forever. My patient is often an entire family. I assess and advocate. Sometimes I wipe bottoms, often I give meds, but that isn't the extent of what I do. There are people above me, and people below. I work closely with both; without them, I could not do what I do well. I chose this profession and love almost every minute of it. I know I am not alone, and I appreciate all of the nurses who work alongside me. Many of them have shaped me into the nurse I am. Someday I will shape others into the nurse they will be. This wasn't my plan B. It was my plan A, and I would gladly choose it again.

This post originally appeared on According to Kateri.

Topics: pride, RN, nurse, doctor

The Gulf Between Doctors and Nurse Practitioners

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Mon, Jul 01, 2013 @ 01:42 PM

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Not long ago, I attended a meeting on the future of primary care. Most of the physicians in the room knew one another, so the discussion, while serious, remained relaxed.

Toward the end of the hour, one of the physicians who had been mostly silent cleared his throat and raised his hand to speak. The other physicians smiled in acknowledgment as their colleague stood up.

“Nurse practitioners,” he said. “Maybe we need more nurse practitioners in primary care.”

Smiles faded, faces froze and the room fell silent. An outraged doctor, the color in his face rising, stood to bellow at his impertinent colleague. Others joined the fray and side arguments erupted in the back of the room. A couple of people raised their hands to try to bring the meeting back to order, but it was too late.

The physician had mentioned the unmentionable.

I remembered the discord and chaos of that meeting when I read a recent study in The New England Journal of Medicine of nurses’ and physicians’ opinions about primary care providers.

For several years now, health care experts have been issuing warnings about an impending severe shortfall of primary care physicians. Policy makers have suggested that nurse practitioners, nurses who have completed graduate-level studies and up to 700 additional hours of supervised clinical work, could fill the gap.

Already, many of these advanced-practice nurses work as their patients’ principal provider. They make diagnoses, prescribe medications and order and perform diagnostic tests. And since they are reimbursed less than physicians, policy makers are quick to point out, increasing the number of nurse practitioners could lower health care costs.

If only it were that easy.

Three years ago, a national panel of experts recommended that nurses be able to practice “to the full extent of their education and training,” leading medical teams and practices, admitting patients to hospitals and being paid at the same rate as physicians for the same work. But physician organizations opposed many of the specific suggestions, citing a lack of data or well-designed studies to support the recommendations.

In an effort to build consensus, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation then invited a dozen leaders from national physician and nursing groups to discuss their differences. The hope was that face-to-face discussions would help physicians and nurses understand one another better and see beyond the highly charged and emotional rhetoric. The approach worked, at least initially; after three meetings, the group drafted a report filled with suggestions for reconciling many of the differences.

But an early confidential draft was leaked to the American Medical Association, a group that had not been invited to participate, and the A.M.A. immediately expressed its opposition to the report. Soon after, three of the participating medical organizations — the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Osteopathic Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics — withdrew their support, and the effort to bring physicians and nurse practitioners together and complete the report collapsed.

Nonetheless, many health care experts remained confident, believing that the large professional organizations had grown out of touch with grass-roots-level health care providers. The guilds might oppose one another, but every day in medical practices, clinics and hospitals across the country, physicians and nurse practitioners were working side by side without bickering. Surely, the experts reasoned, providers who knew and liked one another would be receptive to trying new ways of working together.

Wrong.

Analyzing questionnaires completed by almost 1,000 physicians and nurse practitioners, researchers did find that almost all of the doctors and nurses believed that nurse practitioners should be able to practice to the full extent of their training and that their inclusion in primary care would improve the timeliness of and access to care.

But the agreement ended there. Nurse practitioners believed that they could lead primary care practices and admit patients to a hospital and that they deserved to earn the same amount as doctors for the same work. The physicians disagreed. Many of the doctors said that they provided higher-quality care than their nursing counterparts and that increasing the number of nurse practitioners in primary care would not necessarily improve safety, effectiveness, equity or quality.

A third of the doctors went so far as to state that nurse practitioners would have a detrimental effect on the safety and effectiveness of care.

“These are not just professional differences,” said Karen Donelan, the lead author of the study and a senior scientist at the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. “This is an interplanetary gulf,” she said, echoing a point in an editorial that accompanied her study.

The findings bode poorly for future policy efforts, since physicians are unlikely to support efforts to increase the responsibilities and numbers of advanced-practice nurses in primary care. And most nurse practitioners are unlikely to support any proposals to expand their roles that do not include equal pay for equal work.

Peter I. Buerhaus, senior author of the study and a professor of nursing at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, is chairman of a commission created almost three years ago under the Affordable Care Act to address health care work force issues. But his group has yet to convene because a divided Congress has not approved White House requests for funding.

“We’re running out of time on these issues,” Dr. Buerhaus said. “If the staffing differences remain unresolved, we are just going to cause harm to the public.”

Still, by providing a clearer picture of the extent of these professional differences, the study should help future efforts. “It’s too easy to say that everyone should just get along,” Dr. Donelan said. “These arguments touch on the whole nature of these professions, their core values and how they define themselves.”

“It’s like when family members are warring over a sick patient,” she added. “We need first to acknowledge the others’ position and the full extent of our differences before we can reach any kind of resolution.”

Source: NY Times

Topics: doctor, nurse practitioner, NP

Nurse Practitioners Step In Where Doctors Are Scarce

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Wed, Dec 05, 2012 @ 04:56 PM

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BUCKINGHAM COUNTY, Virginia – Most people in this rural logging area have only one choice when they need medical care: the Central Virginia Community Health Center. On most days, at least 200 people show up at the center seeking treatment for maladies ranging from sore throats to depression to cavities.

The health center typically has four doctors on duty, but the clinical director, Dr. Randall Bayshore, says his staff would never meet local demand if it weren’t for the two nurse practitioners who provide the same care, to the same number of patients, as the doctors.

Buckingham County is one of roughly 5,800 U.S. communities, with about 55 million residents, that have a shortage of primary care physicians. In these places, many residents are forced to forgo regular checkups and treatment for chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes — harming their overall health.

In 2014, when the new federal health care law extends insurance coverage to 30 million more people, the doctor shortage is likely to get worse. Anticipating this, states and the federal government are offering repayment of medical school loans and other incentives to encourage newly minted doctors to practice primary care in needy areas.

But efforts like these take years to pay off. So as an additional step, states are trying to loosen decades-old licensing restrictions, known as “scope of practice laws,”  that prevent nurse practitioners from playing the lead role in providing basic health services.

Nurse practitioners, registered nurses with advanced degrees, are capable of providing primary-care services such as diagnosing and treating illnesses, prescribing medication, ordering tests and referring patients to specialists. But only 18 states and the District of Columbia currently allow nurse practitioners to perform these services independently of a doctor.

Political tension

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A 2010 Institute of Medicine report, “The Future of Nursing,” cited nearly 50 years of academic studies and patient surveys in concluding that primary care provided by nurse practitioners has been as safe and effective as care provided by doctors. But efforts to change “scope of practice” laws to give nurse practitioners more independence have run into stiff opposition.

Organized physician groups, which hold sway in most legislatures, are reluctant to cede professional turf to nurses. Arguing that nurse practitioners lack the necessary level of medical training, they insist that it is unsafe for patients to be treated by nurse practitioners without a doctor’s supervision.

Some doctors also have a financial incentive to limit nurses’ independence. Often carrying heavy medical school loan debt, they can be loath to see their revenue diverted by competing health care services, particularly those with lower fees. The Federal Trade Commission has weighed in on legislative efforts to give nurse practitioners more autonomy in several states, arguing that physician groups have no valid reason for blocking such laws other than to thwart their competition.

Virginia is a case-in-point. After several failed attempts over the last decade, the legislature finally passed a nursing “scope of practice” law in 2011 that doctors and most nurse practitioners in the state say is a step forward. According to its authors, the aim of the law is greater patient access to primary care across the state.

Instead of requiring supervision by a doctor, Virginia’s new law requires nurse practitioners to be part of a doctor-led “patient care team.” And instead of limiting doctors to overseeing just four nurse practitioners, the law allows them to work with up to six. Most important, it removes a requirement that doctors regularly work in the same location as the nurses they supervise. Instead, the statute allows doctors and nurses in separate locations to use telemedicine techniques to collaborate.

The American Medical Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians have called Virginia’s first-of-its-kind law a model for other states that still require on-site doctor supervision of nurse practitioners.

According to Dr. Cynthia Romero, who was president of the Virginia Medical Society when it negotiated with the Virginia Council of Nurse Practitioners to create the law, “the turning point was when both sides realized that the primary focus had to be what was best for patients.” She says the new law is a step forward for patients and builds a bridge between doctors and nurses. “The road ahead is limitless,” she says.

Mark Coles, the chief negotiator for the nurse practitioners' council, is less enthusiastic but says the law represents progress. “It gives us a seat at the table in the legislature for future improvements,” he says.

But in certain parts of the state, nurse practitioners say the new law may be a step in the wrong direction. They worry about new language that requires them to consult with supervising doctors on all “complex” cases. Although rules scheduled to be released next month may clarify which cases are considered complex, some nurse practitioners fear the definition may be subject to differing interpretations.

The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and other nursing organizations recently issued a position paper opposing the whole idea of requiring nurse practitioners to join a doctor-led team if they want to practice to the full extent of their training.

“We broadly support team-based care when it reflects the needs of patients, says Tay Kopanos, head of government affairs for the academy. But when a nurse practitioner can’t bring her best efforts to a clinic without joining a doctor’s team, Kopanos says, “we do not support it.”

Difficult terrain

About 300 miles southwest of Buckingham County – in the Appalachian Mountains where Virginia shares borders with Tennessee and Kentucky—the shortage of health care providers is profound. Working out of a converted recreational vehicle known as the Health Wagon, two nurse practitioners, Teresa Gardner and Paula Meade, do their best to serve a four-county region where idle coal mines have left many jobless and without health insurance.

The non-profit Health Wagon, started in 1980 by a Catholic missionary, has expanded its reach over the years to meet the growing demand of a population that is sicker than most in the country. But the steep and winding roads, often coated with heavy snow and ice in winter, make it dangerous and sometimes impossible to reach everyone in need.

At the Central Virginia Community Health Center in Buckingham County, where doctors and nurses practice side-by-side, the new Virginia law may not present a problem. The kind of ongoing collaboration between doctors and nurse practitioners called for in the law happens naturally in the course of every day. The same thing goes for doctors and nurse practitioners working together in hospital settings.

But, Meade says, team collaboration could be dicey in the hollers of Appalachia. “I’d love to start every day with a multi-disciplinary team meeting,” she says. “Nothing would make me happier.” Driving a mobile unit along treacherous highways and seeing at least 45 patients every day in cramped quarters, however, doesn’t leave much time for meetings.

Sicker than most

What she and Gardner fear most is the requirement in the Virginia law that nurse practitioners consult their lead doctor on all “complex” cases. Gardner and Meade collaborate with each other throughout every day and they often seek advice from their volunteer supervisor, Dr. Joseph Smiddy, who at 70 years old, still has a day job practicing medicine across the border in Kingsport, Tennessee.

“Dr. Smiddy would murder me if I called him every time a complex case walked through the door,” Gardner says. “They’re all complex. Most of them are train wrecks. I’d love to treat someone with a common cold.”

For his part, Smiddy says any law that would increase the pressure on nurse practitioners willing to work in remote mountain areas has got to be the wrong approach. He plans to ask his lawyer to review the statute to see whether it increases his own medical liability as a volunteer team leader.

He agrees that nearly all of the Health Wagon’s cases are complex, no matter how the law defines that term. The area has a high incidence of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, prescription drug abuse and mental illness. More than a few patients have 10 diagnoses, Smiddy says, and many are on 30 different medications.

“Teresa and Paula are brilliant doctors," Smiddy says. "They need to be a national example – a model for how to do it for the rest of the country… We’re not ever going to have enough doctors willing to ride around in a mobile unit the way they do. They’re the real deal. We need to do everything we can to support them.” he says.

Topics: patient, doctor, nurse practitioner

Is There a Black, Latino Doctor in the House?

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Fri, Oct 12, 2012 @ 03:10 PM

From diversityinc.com

In the fall of 2005, Alister Martin seemed the most unlikely candidate for Harvard Medical School. Laid up in the hospital with “my face so swollen my mother didn’t recognize me,” he says, the high-school senior was recovering from a brutal gang attack. The situation had escalated to a point that law enforcement advised Martin’s mother, a Haitian immigrant, to pull her son from Neptune (N.J.) High School to avoid further trouble.

So Martin’s mom sec5881 200x152ured a $15,000 loan and sent her son to the private Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida, where he completed his GED online while practicing 16 hours a day. Martin’s drive and unwavering desire to become a physician pointed him to Rutgers University’s Office for Diversity and Academic Success in the Sciences (ODASIS), whose Access-Med program prepares promising Black, Latino and other undergrads from underrepresented and economically disadvantaged groups for careers in medicine.

Four years later, Martin graduated from Rutgers with a 3.85 GPA and will begin Harvard Medical School this fall. “A miracle happened,” says Martin.

Each year, ODASIS serves roughly 500 at-risk undergrads, and nearly 800 of them have graduated since the program’s founding in 1985. Among the ODASIS class of 2009, 86 percent were accepted to medical school, up from 70 percent in 2007.

Still, Black, Latino and American Indian med students are rare. Three years ago, more than 40,000 people applied to medical school in the United States, with Blacks, Latinos and American Indians making up only about 15 percent of the applicant pool, reports the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), while comprising about one-third of the population. That same year, only 8.7 percent of doctors were from these underrepresented groups, according to a study published in the Journal of Academic Medicine.

The latest AAMC data shows only slight improvement: Among the 42,269 med-school applicants in 2009, only 16 percent were Black, Latino or American Indian. And this disparity extends beyond the potential physician pool—a mere 6.9 percent of people from underrepresented groups ended up as dentists in 2007, only 9.9 percent were pharmacists and just 6.2 percent were registered nurses.

But it’s critical that people from underrepresented groups be recruited into healthcare and other science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields because it will increase the quality of care for those groups and spur innovation. Black, Latino and American Indian/Pacific Islander physicians are nearly three to four times more likely than whites to practice in underserved communities, reports the AAMC.

The dearth of diversity in all STEM professions is what inspired the launch of ODASIS. In 1986, when the initiative first began, only one Black student from Rutgers was accepted to medical school, and he eventually became a radiologist.

STEM-Enrichment Success

ODASIS is a rigorous program that offers four years of step-by-step supplemental instruction, academic enrichment and career advice designed to increase the pipeline of underrepresented talent in all STEM fields. The program is managed by Trinidad native Dr. Kamal Khan, a tireless instructor and caring mentor. He ensures that a four-year academic plan is developed for each incoming freshman so he/she stays on track and pursues the appropriate opportunities.

As a result, these students, often the first in their families to attend college, gain self-confidence. Before ODASIS, says Martin, “I never really believed in myself.”

Academic customization and an integrated-learning approach have helped make ODASIS a success. As part of the Access-Med program, for example, Khan formed collaborative relationships with local healthcare institutions to provide students with research training, professional learning and hands-on experience. Most unique to this pipeline program is the seven-month MCAT (Medical College Admission Test)/DAT (Dental Admission Test) prep course.

Khan often starts working with students who have been identified as having an interest in the sciences the summer prior to their first semester at Rutgers. To facilitate the transition for these incoming freshmen, Khan developed a five-week summer prep program to expose students to basic math and chemistry that allows them to earn college credits toward their degree. This summer, with financial support from Merck & Co., Khan and his team are working with 25 students to help hone their basic math skills “so they can hit the ground running” when they enter college.

“Students were coming in not prepared to take science courses,” he says. “They didn’t have the basic college math to take a college science course. So [we'd have] to support them in the basics. And then by the time they finished the basics, they were in their second year and would say, ‘I don’t want to take the sciences. I’m going to be here forever.’”

But thanks to the support of local organizations, the Educational Opportunity Fund Central Office and Johnson & Johnson, Khan is creating a feeder pool of potential ODASIS students by working with local students as early as ninth grade. The goal: to provide laboratory exposure, SAT-prep instruction, college-admissions counseling and career advice. This year, more than 300 12th-grade students attended the ODASIS Saturday Scholars Academy, one of four separate college-prep programs Khan oversees.

“We also do workshops with parents,” he says. “We get parents very involved.”

What motivates ODASIS students to succeed? Setting high standards and being held accountable for their actions, says Khan. “If you walk into class late or you miss a session and get three red flags, you’re out of the program,” he says. “Why so strict? If you want to be a doctor and you miss the operation, someone dies. So we try to teach them to become mature at a young age.”

In addition to their regular coursework, ODASIS students are required to attend roundtable-style academic support sessions, study halls (up to 9 hours a week for freshmen), testing, motivational workshops and more. They also meet one-on-one with advisers twice a month to review their progress.

“If you’re not doing well, they will call your family,” warns Mekeme Utuk, an ODASIS graduate who just completed her first semester at Harvard Medical School.

In exchange, the students, who often come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, appreciate the support and opportunity. “All that I could take tutoring for, I took. I thought, ‘Why not? It can’t hurt; it’s just extra practice,’” recalls Utuk, whose parents are Nigerian immigrants.

The program also teaches undergrads how to study, critical for challenging courses such as organic chemistry. “I really didn’t know how to study. In high school, I would just cram for exams. But I didn’t know how to break down a chapter and take good notes … and learn through repetition,” says Utuk. “ODASIS made me a better thinker.”

Topics: Latino, lack, diversity, black, nurse, doctor

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