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Understanding Interest and Perceived Barriers to Participation in The Mid-Atlantic Section of The American Urologic Association’s (MA-AUA) Pre-Medicine Enrichment Program (PEP): An Initial Undergraduate Survey

Popoola & Tonkin / International Journal of Surgical Education / October 2023

The Mid-Atlantic Section of the American Urological Association (MA-AUA) launched their Pre-Medicine Enrichment Program (PEP) with the first class of undergraduates participating in the summer of 2022. As part of the PEP curriculum at Howard University, the authors undertook a survey of undergraduates to gauge interest in programs like this and to determine perceived barriers to participation. As the program is aimed at underrepresented minority (URM) students, the authors chose to look at responses separately from both Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) to evaluate if any differences in attitudes or perceptions exist. The authors developed a survey that determined basic information about the undergraduates and their interest in an elective program that mentors and supports their progression into a professional career. The authors also asked about the perception of and type of barriers to participation that might exist.

This survey was distributed electronically in a voluntary response fashion to students at both HBCUs and PWIs. The survey received 90 responses, with 58.9% of respondents attending HBCUs and an overall female predominance of 81.1%. Of the respondents, 89 expressed interests in professional development programs such as PEP, with the ideal length being 1-3 months and with both summer and in-semester opportunities available. Most respondents preferred to be paid for their time and were interested in publishing and having follow-up activities after the program end. However, 74.44% of respondents felt that there were personal barriers to participation, with 88.89% responding that there were not equal opportunities for participation. The most common barriers cited were financial status, citizenship status, and location of the program.

The PEP program is designed to “empower URM students who are first-generation students considering medicine”. However, there may be several perceived barriers to participation, including financial status, citizenship status, and location of the program. The results of this study can help identify interested students and address perceptions that may limit application or participation. Moreover, understanding what drives and motivates these students and the type of program in which they are looking to participate can help to further develop an effective enrichment program for URM students.