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NAMME COVID-19 Public Service Announcement


In the Pipeline vs On the Pathway


A goggle search of the phrase “In the Pipeline”, the original definition dating back to 1859,  is defined as “ in the process of being complete, delivered, or produced “. The example given: “the biggest heroin pipeline in history.” Further descriptions are, “Affirmative action and educational pipelines play a vital role in… AND, “Pipeline programs try to steer minority students into careers in medicine. Our more recent usage of the Pipeline Program term was at its highest , circa late eighties,  early nineties when federal programs such as the Health Career Opportunity Program (HCOP) through HRSA and initiatives like 3000 by 2000 abound and remains a mainstay in our lexicon. Given the meaning of pipeline programs, we must take pause and consider whether we continue to state that our students and community are: In the Pipeline or On the Pathway. Reflect on that for a moment, In the Pipeline or On the Pathway: What comes to your mind when each of those phrases are used? In the pipeline, conjures up confinement, restricting, dark, controlling; controlling in a sense that however that pipeline is constructed, its contents shall flow (straight, winding, pipeline to nowhere?). In stark contrast, the definition of pathway,

“ A way of achieving a specified result; a course of action” Example given, “research has indisputably been part of the pathway to progress” and the term is often applied when describing students in a specific opportunity leading to a specific end, say research pathway.


I currently and intentionally prefer Pathway Programs to Pipeline programs, to distinguish from negative and limiting association with “School to Prison Pipeline”-a reference to a systemic effort in guiding young people of color, from educational institutions to penal institutions! It’s a contemporary term being utilized throughout the media and the education industry. Let’s change the reference because labels matter and the people this term refers too, matter!


The National Association of Medical Minority Educators (NAMME) Inc., conscientiously strives to impact the equitable representation of under-represented individuals, who are on the pathway towards the health professions. Since 1975 the Association has worked continuously to increase healthcare workforce diversity with the ultimate goal of creating better healthcare outcomes for communities of color.

The latest volume of the  Journal of Best Practices, of which we partner with, provides insight on topics that range from an examination of an effective pathway program for economically disadvantaged Pre-med students to challenging the use of the term “Minority”.


A theme of review and continuous quality improvement characterizes the collection of manuscripts presented in the Journal. It reminds us that our institutions and organizations make serious and intentional commitment towards real change. We must dust off our diversity mission statements, for those that have them, and rewrite them to include equity as the ultimate goal as there is no diversity and inclusion without Equity,


In the Pipeline? Or On the Pathway? Your call!




Established in 1975 by a group of educators concerned about the shortage of minority health care providers.
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