Becoming a Mount Sinai Doctor: It Begins with a Walk in the Neighborhood

Over the next four years, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai's prospective doctors will care for many patients who come from nearby East Harlem. Literally as well as metaphorically, the first steps in getting to know that community will come with an East Harlem walking tour. From that day on, our prospective physicians will gain an understanding of how community, societal, and cultural factors impact on the health of individual men and women.

It is a rite of passage that the New York Times chronicled in an article titled "Future Doctors, Crossing Borders; Lessons in East Harlem's Culture, Diet and Health."

Groups of 10 students, accompanied by upperclassmen, faculty, and a handful of East Harlem community partners, walk the neighborhood, eat local foods, and discuss the traditions and belief systems of the people living there.

Offered through our Center for Multicultural and Community Affairs (CMCA), the tour is designed to give students a first-hand sense of East Harlem's rich history and culture but also the health disparities that exist in this community. For example, East Harlem has the highest concentration of public housing in all of Manhattan, representing a massive investment dating back to the 1960s. Most of the housing stock has since deteriorated significantly, with an accumulation of triggers for asthma that has led to the highest incidence of pediatric asthma hospitalization in the city.