SWAG Summit 2019

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai’s Scholar-Athlete Initiative is a partnership with local and national organizations to raise awareness about careers in health care and science among scholar-athletes. We are specifically focusing on scholar-athletes with academic goals (SWAG). Our message is that participation in athletics and striving for academic excellence prepares you for success in these careers. With determination and support, you can do both.

The initiative targets two groups:

  • Junior-high and high-school student-athletes
  • National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) athletes

Scholar-Athlete Summit

On June 22, 2019, SWAG held a one-day Scholar-Athlete Summit to Watch the event video at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York City. The summit brought together stakeholders for group discussions and lectures about careers as scientists and health care professionals. Participants included scholar-athletes, parents, medical student athletes, educators, coaches, physician athletes, medical and graduate school recruiters, and national leaders. Hannah Valantine, MD, Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity at the National Institutes of Health, delivered the keynote address. Other speakers included officials from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the NCAA as well as scholar-athletes, physicians, nurses, athletic trainers, and distinguished athletic and health administrators.

The event, hosted by the Icahn School of Medicine’s Diversity in Biomedical Research Council and the Mount Sinai Health System’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion, covered a variety of issues, including the following:
event, hosted by the Icahn School of Medicine’s Diversity in Biomedical Research Council (DBRC) and the Mount Sinai Health System’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion (ODI), covered the following:

  • How experience as an athlete enhances success in science and/or health careers
  • Awareness of pipeline programs that enhance academic preparedness
  • Opportunities available to scholar-athletes in science and health careers
  • Lessons learned from former athletes (medical students and physicians)


Racial and ethnic minorities comprise roughly 25 percent of the U.S. population, yet they receive only 16 percent of the nation’s science, technology, engineering, and math bachelor’s degrees. Similarly, Black, and Latino students account for only 11 percent of master’s degrees, and 5 percent of doctoral degrees in these fields. As a result, these groups are very much underrepresented in medical and other health professional schools. In fact, studies show that Black men are the only demographic to see declines or only modest increases in medical school matriculation rates over the past 40 years.

As a result, organizations such as the National Institutes of Health’s Office for Scientific Workforce Diversity, AAMC, and the NCAA have suggested developing other, non-traditional pipelines. The goal is to help student-athletes develop character traits such as self-confidence, dedication to tasks, resilience, and good time management. These skills are important for success in both science and math as well as sports. Outreach to this population has become a national conversation. The SWAG Summit jump-started our local efforts.

Summer Program – Next Steps

Working with programs such as Youth Education through Sports, Inc., Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, Area Health Education Centers, and other programs and organizations, we will develop a four- to eight-week summer program. The program will consist of:

  • Weekly lectures on sports physiology and sports medicine. This might include a focus on anatomy and physiology.
  • Small group activities based on sports-related medical cases. Students will solve problems and prepare presentations about conditions that affect athletes. Examples include sprains and strains, fractures, hypertension, nutrition and supplement issues, eating disorders, and traumatic brain injury. We may also hold anatomy labs.
  • Independent learning activities that will give students the opportunity to develop and perform research projects. They will prepare a final report and presentation.
  • College and career preparation that will teach students about health care careers such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, nursing, diagnostic radiology, public health, medicine, and research. We will also work on test-taking skills and assist students in completing college applications.