Medical students who are the first in their family to graduate from college bring unique strengths to medicine. There are also unique hurdles and at IUSM we aspire to help first-gen students navigate medical school.
The U.S. Department of Education defines “first-generation college student” as:
(1) An individual neither of whose natural or adoptive parents received a baccalaureate degree; or
(2) A student who, prior to the age of 18, regularly resided with and received support from only one natural or adoptive parent and whose supporting parent did not receive a baccalaureate degree.
The traditional definition of a “First-Generation” (i.e., ‘First Gen’) student is a student who is part of the first generation in their family to achieve a 4-year college degree, i.e. at the time of completing their college degree the students’ parents/guardians have not earned a bachelor’s degree. Often there are initiatives for “First-generation, low-income” (FGLI) students as they share common needs.
We understand that family ties and upbringings can be complicated, so we welcome IUSM medical students to self-identify as first-generation students. Additionally, the resources shared may benefit students who are the first in their family to attend medical school and/or have a parent who earned a college degree outside the United States where university experiences differ greatly.
IUSM First-Generation Resources:
First-Generation Student Committee: this student-led group develops programs and events to support medical students at IUSM. Learn more about the committee and people involved in this blog post. First-gen students interested in getting involved may email the co-advisor Niki Messmore (Director of Medical Service Learning) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
External Resources for Students and Families:
- AAMC’s Tools and Resources for First-Generation Medical School Students: There are a number of resources on academic support, professional development and career mentorship, emotional support, and financial support.
- AAMC’s Tools and Resources for Advisors of First-Generation Medical School Students: This website is useful for family members, advisors, and faculty who want to support First-generation medical students.
- Finding success as a first-generation medical student: This 2019 AAMC article highlights the stories of medical students and the various programs being implemented at U.S. medical schools.
- First-generation medical students and The Match®: This AAMC article showcases the profiles of first-gen students who were matched in 2022, including IUSM’s very own Justin Rice who helped to found the IUSM First-Generation Student Committee.
- National First-Generation and Low-Income in Medicine Association: This is a coalition of multiple medical schools who offer first-generation programs. They offer some resources, including a video on “FGLIMed/AAMC Workshop: Financing Medical Education”.
- Navigating medical school as a first-generation college student: This blog post includes advice shared from a first-gen medical student.
- First Gen Medicine: This website is geared towards first-gen undergraduate students who want to go to medical school.
- Talking Admissions and Med Student Life Podcast: Episode 140 interviews a fourth-year medical student
Research on First-Generation Students:
- Mason, H. R., Winseman, J., Marcellon, R., Huamantl, M., Ruiz, C., & Ayala, E. E. (2018). First-generation medical student wellness in the United States. Journal of Best Practices in Health Professions Diversity, 11(2), 96-106.
- Romero, R., Miotto, K., Casillas, A., & Sanford, J. (2020). Understanding the experiences of first-generation medical students: implications for a diverse physician workforce. Academic Psychiatry, 44(4), 467-470.
- Gallegos, A., Gordon, L. K., & Casillas, A. (2021). Medical Schools Must Help First-Generation Medical Students Realize Their Full Potential. Academic Medicine, 96(6), 774-775.
- Christophers, B., Macedo, B., Nieblas-Bedolla, E., Marr, M., Andersen, O. S., & Boothroyd, C. (2021). First-generation physician-scientists are under-represented and need better support. Nature medicine, 27(5), 752-755.
- Mason, H. R., Ata, A., Nguyen, M., Nakae, S., Chakraverty, D., Eggan, B., … & Jeffe, D. B. (2022). First-generation and continuing-generation college graduates’ application, acceptance, and matriculation to US medical schools: a national cohort study. Medical Education Online, 27(1), 2010291.
- Gallegos, A., Gordon, L. K., Moreno, G., Nahm, S., Brown, K., Walker, V., … & Casillas, A. (2022). Visibility & support for first generation college graduates in medicine. Medical Education Online, 27(1), 2011605.
- Sawyer, D. L., & Gratreak, B. D. (2022). Medical schools must do more to open the door to first generation and low income students. bmj, 377.
- Salinas, K. E., Nguyen, H. B., & Kamran, S. C. (2022). The invisible minority: A call to address the persistent socioeconomic diversity gap in US medical schools and the physician workforce. Frontiers in Public Health, 10.
- Schmude, M., Bannon, J., & Yi, M. (2022). The Academic Performance of First-Generation-to-College Medical Students as They Transition to Residency. Journal of First-generation Student Success, 2(1), 54-58.
- Robinson, J. A., & Do-Nguyen, C. C. (2021). Increasing diversity in cardiothoracic surgery: first-generation medical students. JTCVS Open, 7, 289-293.
- Perez, M., Williams, C., & Vapiwala, N. (2021). “Holistic Admissions” During a Pandemic: The Effects of COVID-19 on Socioeconomically Disadvantaged Medical School Applicants. Academic Medicine, 96(1), e3-e4.
- Nguyen, J. (2021). Improving Diversity and Inclusion for First-Generation College Graduates in Medicine. Temple University.
- Kunes, B., & Burns, R. (2021). Demographic backgrounds and career goals of first-generation medical students.