The Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) Foundation has launched its Pathway to Neurosurgery programme, an initiative dedicated to alleviating healthcare disparities by encouraging high school students from underrepresented groups to pursue a career in neurosurgery or medicine.
“This unique programme highlights what we can achieve when we all come together,” said Martina Stippler (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard University, Boston, USA), chair of the CNS Foundation. “The CNS Foundation’s Pathway to Neurosurgery programme will make a difference, and open doors and opportunities that did not exist before.”
Under the programme, high school students from the E L Haynes public charter school in Washington DC, USA were selected to participate in a full-day symposium at the recent CNS annual meeting (9–13 September, Washington DC, USA).
The guest students have been invited to attend “inspiring presentations” and participate in hands-on laboratory stations to gain insight into a neurosurgeon’s daily life, as per a CNS press release. At the end of the symposium, the students will be invited to apply for scholarships, and up to two will be selected for year-long mentorships with local neurosurgeons in Washington DC.
In recognition of this “groundbreaking programme”, the release adds, District of Columbia mayor Muriel Bowser has proclaimed 7–13 September as Pathway to Neurosurgery Week.
“The CNS is thrilled that Mayor Bowser has recognised the Pathway to Neurosurgery programme,” said CNS president Elad Levy (State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, USA). “As CNS president, it has been a privilege to witness the growth and development of this critical mission-centric project, offering exposure to the wonders of neuroscience to these exceptional students.”
Only 4% of practising neurosurgeons in the USA are Black, 5% are Hispanic and 8% are women, the CNS release also states. In contrast, approximately 14% of the US population are Black, 19% are Hispanic and 50% are women.
“African Americans, Hispanic Americans and women are significantly underrepresented in neurosurgery, and the CNS Pathway to Neurosurgery programme aims to address this problem by promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in neurosurgery,” added Tiffany Hodges (Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, Cleveland, USA), co-chair of the CNS Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. “Our goal is to inspire students to consider neurosurgery as a career option to foster innovations in patient care that can improve outcomes and reduce minority health disparities.”
“There are persistent racial health disparities in the USA, including in neurosurgical care, and the evidence is clear that diversifying the neurosurgical workforce is an important tool in our fight to end these disparities,” stated Edjah Nduom (Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, USA), co-chair of the CNS Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. “The CNS Foundation is working to expand the Pathway to Neurosurgery programme nationwide to harness all of the diverse talent of our people to improve health outcomes for everyone.”
The recent CNS release notes that the Pathway to Neurosurgery programme is supported by grants from Medtronic, Stryker and Microvention.