The Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Medicine took part in the Johns Hopkins Virtual Visiting Elective in Equitable Healthcare, a two-week medical school-wide initiative held Sept. 13-24 that explored key aspects in the care of diverse patient populations.
The elective, which is in its second year, was first offered during the 2020-21 academic year to allow fourth-year medical students to network, gain skills and learn about the Johns Hopkins community and patient population during the COVID-19 pandemic. Its objectives include stimulating discussion surrounding healthcare equity, while providing students with the opportunity to explore a Hopkins specialty of their choice.
Students were able to choose from more than a dozen specialty tracks for the program. Four students selected a track that focused on ophthalmology. Wilmer faculty who participated this year included Henry Jampel, Adrienne Scott, Divya Srikumaran, Megan Collins and Fasika Woreta.
The students engaged in a universal curriculum that covered topics such as health disparities, global health, Baltimore’s patient population and professional development. It also included a specialty-specific curriculum that explored equitable healthcare within ophthalmology through patient interviews, case presentations, lectures, health humanities exercises and team discussion, allowing students to refine their skills while networking with residents and faculty.
Jampel, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Professor of Ophthalmology at Wilmer and the curriculum course director for the specialty, says the program is a great way for students who are applying for residencies to be introduced to the wealth of options at Johns Hopkins. “These fourth-year students from other medical schools get to interact with many members of our fantastic faculty, and this will hopefully get them more interested in a residency at Wilmer,” he says.
Jampel met with the students to evaluate their experiences and says reviews were uniformly positive. “They seem to have been learning a lot and retaining a good deal of what they have been exposed to,” he says. “I am confident that this program will be continued into the future.”
Among the students who participated in the ophthalmology track was Joana Andoh, a fourth-year medical student at Yale University who is interested in pursuing a career in ophthalmology. Her research has focused on marginalized groups and access to healthcare. She wanted to take part in the program to further her skills, build a bigger foundation in health equity research and learn who at Wilmer was conducting research on the topic.
Andoh says one of the highlights of the elective was the accessibility to Wilmer faculty members, whether it was through an educational session, a question-and-answer session or an informal talk. “It was about ophthalmology and the material, but also how the faculty can help us as trainees as we advance in our journeys in academic medicine,” she says. “They were generous of their time and willing to offer their advice.”
She says she enjoyed the program and has recommended the elective to peers and next year’s cohort at Yale who are looking for virtual elective options. “It’s been the highlight of my academic year, so far,” she says. “It was great to experience Wilmer, even from a distance, and I’ve put it at the top of my list for residency choices.”