Leaders in Medical Education

Dr. Alden Landry, Co-Founder of Tour for Diversity

Robert Trevino
Published on Jun 9, 2016. Updated on Invalid date.

Alden M. Landry, MD, MPH is an emergency medicine physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and is the founder of Motivating Pathways.  He also holds other academic positions including Senior Faculty at the Disparities Solutions Center at Massachusetts General Hospital and Faculty Assistant Director of the Office of Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership at Harvard Medical School. He received his BS from Prairie View A&M University in 2002, MD from the University of Alabama in 2006 and completed his residency in Emergency Medicine at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in 2009. In 2010, he earned an MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health. He completed the Commonwealth Fund Mongan Fellowship in Minority Health Policy in 2010 as well. He was also awarded the Disparities Solutions Center/Aetna Fellow in Health Disparities award in 2010-2011. In addition to his clinical interests, Dr. Landry is involved in research on emergency department utilization trends, disparities in care and quality of care. He also co-instructs two courses at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and teaches cultural competency to residents.

How did you first become interested in emergency medicine?
I first became interested in EM when I was a premedical student participating in the Minority Medical Education Program (MMEP), now known as the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP). Each student was assigned a clinical shift during the program and I was invited to rotate in the ED. I was hooked from the first patient. I distinctly remember observing an ED doctor take care of a patient with diabetic ketoacidosis. I stood in the back of the room as he talked with the patient, obtaining the history and performing a physical exam. The doctor moved quickly to make the right diagnosis and worked with the team of nurses and technicians to provide care for the patient. Through the chaos, beeping alarms and masses of people moving from room to room, I saw the organized precision of emergency medicine.

Can you share your background on how you got to where you are right now?
I’m originally from Texas but grew up in a military family. We lived all over the world. I was the first in my family to go into medicine and broke away from the family tradition of serving in the Army. My experiences in a military family, with the moves, new environments and frequent new individuals in my life helped me feel comfortable with making transitions and reading people. I graduated from high school in Virginia, college in Texas, medical school in Alabama and residency and fellowship in Massachusetts. I followed the best opportunities available, which has brought me all over the US.

Where did the idea for the Tour for Diversity first originate? What are some of your goals for the program moving forward?
Kameron Matthews and I came up with the Tour for Diversity in Medicine while we were in medical school. We recognized the need to encourage more minority pre-medical students to consider careers in the health professions. We realized that there were a number of pre-medical students that would not attend a national conference that we were planning and wanted to reach out to them. We decided that we needed to figure out a way to reach out to those students and get them the information they needed to help them get into medical school. We weren’t able to get the idea off the ground initially but after a few years we revisited the idea. We found funding, convinced our friends to join us and found institutions to host us. 8 tours later and we have reached thousands of students all across the country.

To keep the movement going with T4D, we need to develop more organizational structure, both in personnel and resources. We need to identify more partners including schools and other non-profit organizations. Lastly we need to engage more minority health care providers.

What are 2-3 changes you would like to see in the current medical education system? Healthcare system?
I’d love to see a more diverse health care workforce. To get there we need to encourage students from all backgrounds and walks of life to consider careers in the health professions. We need to embrace holistic review when considering applicants for school. Medical education needs to incorporate more public health into medical education so that doctors have a better understanding of the social determinants of health and can truly address health inequities. We need to ensure that access to health insurance leads to access to health care providers. We need to eliminate health care disparities by addressing bias in health care.

Do you have any final thoughts regarding the medical profession as a whole?
Medicine is a great profession. It’s full of challenges and keeps me on my toes. I love the variety of what I do. Being a doctor is truly a job of service and commitment to those who need your knowledge and compassion.