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ASH Ambassador Program: A Focus on Recruitment and Retention

December 10, 2022

Rahma Warsame, MD, is Consultant, Division of Hematology, Department of Internal Medicine; Associate Professor of
Medicine; Division of Hematology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.

The ASH Ambassador program is simply another example of the commitment of the Society to support and develop students and trainees who are underrepresented in medicine and steer them toward successful careers in hematology. It is designed to provide a point person to advocate for and advise potential candidates eligible for ASH Minority Recruitment Awards. This award pathway provides research support to medical/graduate students all the way through to faculty hematologists. It is also a mechanism to identify new mentors for students and trainees and has helped to build a community of aspiring hematologists at my institution. The ambassadors act as a bridge between the Society, institution, and trainees. I have been involved since the program’s inception in 2018, and it is an honor that I hold dear.

This program has been meaningful, and at my own institution it has allowed me to meet incredible individuals at all stages of training who have an interest in hematology and whose paths I would not have crossed otherwise. It has helped me to contribute in some way to fostering diversity within my specialty. As a Black hematologist, I recognize the need for diversity in the field and recollect the daunting process of navigating applications and spaces that are typically held by majority individuals, all on my own. The opportunity to help others succeed and avoid missteps brings me joy. The awards the program supports stimulate innovation and confidence in individuals from communities that have long been ignored. The program includes ambassadors across the country at various institutions and has helped me build my network of colleagues in classical and malignant hematology who are devoted to increasing the proportion of minority scientists and physicians in our field. Some of these colleagues have become dear friends and have given me space to discuss challenging topics like racism in medicine, justice, and bias, and have validated similar lived experiences.

I have benefited greatly from participating in this program and would encourage others to apply and get involved. The Society’s tireless efforts, and creative ways to attract and retain individuals to hematology has been inspiring, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic when the struggles of minority patients were all the more evident on a daily basis. ASH’s dedication, monetary commitment, and focus on paving the way for the next generation of hematologists from underrepresented communities makes me proud to be part of this Society. Learn more on the ASH website.

Dr. Rahma Warsame is an associate professor of medicine with the Division of Hematology at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, where she also serves as associate chair for equity and inclusion in the Department of Medicine, and diversity chair in the Division of Hematology. In 2021, she received the prestigious Carol Emmott Fellowship, designed to improve gender equity in health leadership. In this article, she describes her experience as an ASH Ambassador since 2018, focusing on her involvement in minority recruitment and retention.

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