BEAM Initiative Connects Incoming M1 Students with Trained Faculty Mentors

At an invitational event early this fall, 33 incoming medical students met on the third floor of the Health Sciences Learning Center for an early evening kickoff of a new mentoring program for underrepresented students. The Building Equitable Access to Mentorship (BEAM) initiative matches faculty and students for an academic year-long program designed to enhance the medical school experience for individuals of color and other marginalized identities. Tracy Downs, SMPH Associate Dean for Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, comments,

Tracy Down, MDWe are proud that our recruitment effort paid off this year with the largest ever enrollment at SMPH of students from racial/ethnic groups underrepresented in medicine, but that achievement is only the first step. It is equally, or more important that we enrich the experiences of these students and sustain their career satisfaction in every way we can.

The BEAM Initiative connects incoming students (M1s) with faculty role-models from the SMPH Affiliate Centennial Scholars Program. This program is unique in academic medicine and represents a partnership of the SMPH Academic Affairs Offices of Faculty Affairs & Development and Multicultural Affairs with the ICTR Collaborative Center for Health Equity (CCHE). Angela Byars-Winston, Associate Director of ICTR CCHE, notes,

Angela Byars-Winston, PhDBEAM was created to connect trained faculty mentors with individuals from groups historically under-represented in medicine. Our primary goal is to support talent development in these M1 students by building self-efficacy for degree completion and cultural navigation skills.

Byars-Winston is a nationally recognized expert in the role of cultural influences on academic and career development and an integral member of the ICTR Mentoring Research Group. As part of her current scholarship, she has been leading and developing a Culturally-Aware Mentorship (CAM) Initiative, which was awarded a U01 from the NIH National Research Mentoring Network this summer. She adds,

Our faculty mentors have already made a substantial commitment of time to training in culturally aware mentoring practices prior to meeting their new mentees. This training curriculum took advantage of the breadth and depth of expertise in research mentor training that has grown on the UW campus for close to two decades.

More about other research mentor training initiatives is available online. Students can also contact Manuel Santiago,, at the SMPH Office of Multicultural Affairs for information about upcoming opportunities and events through that office.

The seed for this program was planted by last year’s M1 students. Downs notes,

In listening to last year’s new students, the theme that came up over and over again was their desire for mentoring experiences. We developed the BEAM initiative to fill that gap. Our team worked for six to eight months to design the curriculum, recruit and train faculty mentors, and attract student participants. We feel like it has been a very successful partnership so far and based on our student’s reactions, the kickoff evening was a huge success!