Story by Kyle Bagenstose , SMC ´11
Photography by Ryan S. Brandenberg
For most of her medical career, Lynne Holden, MED ´91, focused on healing patients and sending them home from the hospital.
Now she tries to bring people into hospitals as founder and president of Mentoring in Medicine Inc., a Bronx‐based nonprofit organization that directs students of all ages toward careers in medicine.
“Our mission is to empower students to become health professionals,” Holden says. “We do that in an engaging way, entering the lives of students who are disadvantaged in some way.”
Elementary‐school children can participate in programs such as hip‐hop stage plays, which introduce them to health concepts from heart disease to job opportunities in healthcare. As students progress in their education, they can participate in rigorous course work through virtual summer camps that cover topics including advanced biology and research methods. College undergraduates can gain healthcare experience by performing community outreach.
The ideas for such initiatives came from Holden´s own experience growing up in the Philadelphia neighborhood of Mount Airy, which lacked a support system for budding health professionals.
“I knew I wanted to become a physician as early as elementary school, but it wasn't easy to find mentors or programs to help me pursue my dream,” Holden says. “As an undergrad [at Howard University], I did summer sessions to enrich my learning, but there was no continuity. I´d go to on for six weeks, and that was the end of it.”
Holden´s passion for education took hold in 1994, after she joined the admissions committee of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University in New York City.
“I realized I wanted to be the feet on the street, trying to recruit students who have dreams but don't know how to realize them,” she says. “A lot of students don't have any role models or have low self‐confidence.”
Since its founding in 2006, Mentoring in Medicine has reached more than 25,000 students and has expanded to cities including Atlanta; Detroit; Oakland, Calif.; Philadelphia; and Washington, D.C. Holden is amazed consistently by the students´ transformations.
“I've had students say they were told they would never be a doctor,” she says. “And just a few years later, I have the honor of putting their white coats on them during their graduation ceremonies.”