First Doctors of Tomorrow student sees medical career more clearly after Karmanos internship

The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute welcomed its first high school student into its inaugural Doctors of Tomorrow program this past summer. The program is designed to inspire and prepare Detroit high school students from underrepresented communities to pursue careers in healthcare and give them an individualized experience exploring disparities that affect their communities. The Doctors of Tomorrow is a new partnership between Karmanos and Cass Technical High School.

Amari Francis was the first student to finish the six-week mentorship program in July 2023. While at Karmanos, Francis connected with many leaders during his internship under the supervision of Christine Smith-Johnson, manager of Volunteer Services.

“She helped to guide me through the process and showed me the behind-the-scenes work of the healthcare industry,” said Francis. “This internship has made me want to spend more time in healthcare settings before becoming a doctor.”

He added that everyone at Karmanos “treated me with respect and kindness, making sure I had all I needed to be successful.”

With a dream of becoming an anesthesiologist or an ophthalmologist, Francis said his tasks at Karmanos provided information that helped him understand his goals more clearly. He also was exposed to professional expectations and the responsibility of being part of a workplace environment.

“My experience has helped me gain a better understanding of being a doctor, but it especially helped me to understand all of the inner workings of a hospital and all the care that goes into making the hospital run beyond just providing medical care,” he described. “I’ve gained knowledge about creating professional presentations to give to colleagues, understanding how to clock in and out of a job, what a plethora of positions in healthcare do, and so much more to benefit me on my way to becoming a physician.”

Nikisha Francis, Amari’s mother, was also excited about the exposure he received in the medical field. She said the program will have a lasting impact on his future career.

“I think Amari’s involvement with this program will influence his future academic and career goals. He was exposed to many facets of healthcare, all the people it takes to provide proper care, and what keeps an organization running. This exposure has provided him with great insight. The program has piqued his interests even more and will only fuel him for further exploits in the healthcare field,” Nikisha stated.

Francis shared much about his experience at Karmanos with his family. One of his favorite experiences was scrubbing in and observing an actual surgical procedure.

At the end of Francis’ six-week internship, he provided a presentation to his mentors and Karmanos staff about his experience. He also received a $1,000 stipend. He started his 11th-grade year in high school after making lasting connections and mentorships with Team Karmanos that could extend throughout his college and postgraduate career. Karmanos looks forward to the continued partnership with Cass Tech and welcoming another student into the Doctors of Tomorrow program next year to provide a learning experience just like Francis received.