As a pediatrician, it is an incredible gift to partner with families on their child’s care and earn their trust. As a founder, I also manage BCP’s operations and continually fundraise to support our growth, alongside my efforts to provide clinical care. We are a unique organization challenging existing paradigms. As I lead our work, I have the privilege of working very closely with donors, funders, and other community leaders as well as the families we serve. This perspective provides me with the opportunity to share what I am seeing every day, and helps build our mutual understanding of the challenges and opportunities in pursuit of our shared goal of equity in pediatrics. In that spirit, I am sharing a timely update with you called From the Front Lines. This is a raw, unfiltered look into what we are seeing and learning here at BCP, particularly with regard to current events impacting our patients.
In the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action in college admissions, I’ve been reflecting on how we support our teenage patients and their families within their college application and the admissions process. As part of our larger mission to disrupt systems of care, BCP is invested in bringing equity to all aspects of attending college. As a mother to two teenage daughters, one who recently applied to college, this process is also personal for me.
Below, I share with you all some of the ways that we support our patients, the majority of whom are Black and Brown, along their path to college. We supported a number of patients in their college applications, including:
encouraging patients to think about options after high school and assisting them in this process
brainstorming, editing, and providing feedback on application essays
paying for college application fees (even on the night they were due!)
taking patients on college tours, locally in Boston, and outside the city as well…
… in fact, one particular story resonates with me as we reflect on our role as a pediatric practice committed to the broadest definition of health – one that includes educational outcomes.
One of BCP's Black teen patients was admitted to Drexel University in Pennsylvania. She wanted to look at Drexel with her Mom, but her Mom's car was not able to make the 7 hour ride there. She let us know that as much as she would like to go she understood it was not possible. When this patient's mental health clinician and I heard this, we knew immediately that we were going to make it happen. I thought about one of my guiding principles at BCP: treat our patients as we want our own children to be treated. I have a daughter who is also a senior in high school and we went to look at many schools together. These trips required plane rides and hotel rooms and enabled us to spend precious time together; they were also so important in helping her choose the right school. Putting this principle into action, her mental health clinician called this patient's Mom and told her that we would be supporting her and her daughter to be able to attend Admitted Students Day at Drexel. BCP paid for their train tickets, hotel room, and even gave them some spending money. They were so excited and couldn't believe that they would have the opportunity to go. They sent photos throughout their time there, including precious selfie smiles. Seeing these, I realized that this Mom and daughter had never had the opportunity to go on a trip anywhere together – just the two of them. There are five kids in this busy family and Mom works and is in nursing school; going away with one child is a luxury that they could not afford. Although this patient has decided to go to UMass Dartmouth (where she received more financial aid), this trip undoubtedly leveled the playing field by creating the opportunity to go through the college visit experience. It also brought this patient and her mom closer together, and reinforced their trust in BCP as not only a medical provider, but also a partner in pursuing the best possible life they can imagine.
If we really want to talk about equity, then that means giving all kids the same opportunities that we would want for our own children. This trip did just that. THIS is equity. THIS is BCP.
Stay tuned for further updates "From the Front Lines" and do not hesitate to send us your questions, thoughts, and feedback. We have been seeing lots of issues with housing among our patients and will be sharing some observations and thoughts on that soon.