Asa Yancey Scholarship Introduces Minority Medical Students to Surgical Residency Training

August 2019

Dr. Asa Yancey

Asa Yancey, MD, 1916-2013

In summer 2019, the Department of Surgery welcomed the first recipients of the Asa G. Yancey Visiting Student Diversity Scholarship. Initially announced in December 2018, the scholarship is dedicated to setting an example for residency programs nationwide by increasing the number of underrepresented minority trainees in Emory's general surgery residency program. The scholarship exposes competitive minority medical students to Emory's surgical environment during one-month rotations, and the department will strongly consider all recipients for residency interviews.

The inaugural Yancey scholars were Katherine McElroy, from McGovern Medical School at University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, TX, and India Jones, from Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, DC. Ms. McElroy rotated on the surgical oncology service at Emory University Hospital Midtown in August, while Ms. Jones began her rotation on the Emory BME service at Emory University Hospital on August 26th.

Both scholars were selected from a competitive pool of applicants by members of the General Surgery Resident Diversity Committee: Adekemi Egunsola, MD, a recent graduate of the residency program who is now doing a colorectal surgery fellowship at Long Island Jewish Medical Center; Nnaemeka Ndubisi, MD, current PGY-4 resident; Keith Delman, MD, program director of the general surgery residency program; and Barbara Pettitt, MD, director of medical student education for the Department of Surgery.

Eligible applicants included fourth-year medical students from underrepresented minority backgrounds (African American, Hispanic, Native American, etc.) in strong academic standing at their home institution. Students were required to submit official transcripts, letters of good standing, recommendations from their surgery clerkship director, and expected to have achieved honors or high pass (or equivalent letter grade, A or B) in their third year surgery clerkship and a USMLE STEP 1 score of at least 215.

Applicants submitted their rotation requests to be placed on one of Emory's general surgery services to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Visiting Student Learning Opportunities (VSLO) program. Upon selection, scholarship recipients received travel reimbursement, a daily food stipend, and were scheduled to meet with Dr. Delman, Allan Pickens, MD, program director of the three-year and six-year cardiothoracic surgery residencies and faculty advisor to the Resident Diversity Committee, as well as other faculty.

Future plans for the scholarship program include housing recipients with current Emory medical students and assigning mentorship to specific faculty that have expressed a particular interest in diversity and inclusion.

The scholarship represents one facet of the Department of Surgery's ongoing efforts to increase diversity among students, residents, and faculty within the department. Fittingly, it is named for Asa G. Yancey, MD, the first African American physician to serve at Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital. Dr. Yancey was appointed chief of surgery at Grady's Hughes Spalding Pavilion from 1958-1972. Shortly thereafter, he established the first accredited surgical residency program for African Americans in the state of Georgia.

In 1964, Dr. Yancey became the first African American faculty member at the Emory University School of Medicine. In 1972, he was named medical director of Grady Memorial Hospital as well as associate dean at Emory's School of Medicine. The following year, he was elected to membership in the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, recently renamed the National Academy of Medicine.

Dr. Yancey retired in 1989, and was named professor emeritus of surgery at Emory. Two years later, the Grady Health System established the Asa G. Yancey Health Center, a neighborhood primary care facility.

The Department of Surgery is pleased to honor Dr. Yancey's legacy with this new scholarship program. The application process for the 2020-2021 academic year will be announced as details are finalized.