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Resources for First-Generation Medical Students

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

External Resources for Students and Families:

Research on First-Generation Students: