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The Association for American Medical Colleges (AAMC) convened a “First Gen Working Group” within its Group on Educational Affairs to address the unique issues facing students who are the first in their family to attend college.

According to member, Vicki T. Sapp, PhD, the working group has created an online toolkit that students and their advisors can find on the AAMC website. The toolkit was peer reviewed prior to publication.

Dr. Sapp, director for student engagement, diversity and inclusion and an assistant professor in Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine’s (GCSOM) Department of Medical Education, said first-generation students, especially in medical school, are an under-represented population whose needs have often been overlooked. “Navigating medical school is difficult if you don’t have a mentor or a guide,” said Dr. Sapp. “Insider knowledge is often passed down between generations – knowledge not available to first-gen students. It includes things like the importance of shadowing, finding research that aligns with professional goals, even when and how to study for the all-important USMLE Step 1 exam. Our toolkit is a resource to fill in those gaps.”

The toolkit provides resources on everything from finding a mentor to accessing emotional health support. The resources are divided into four categories:

  • Academic support
  • Professional development and career mentorship
  • Emotional support
  • Financial support

Dr. Sapp and the working group also presented a poster on the toolkit and its resources at the AAMC’s virtual 2020 AAMC Learn, Serve, and Lead Conference.

Vicki T. Sapp, PhD