Danielle Dooley, M.D., M.Phil., and Toke Odimayomi, M.D., share a common passion: advocating for under-resourced populations, especially for children and families who have immigrated. Now they have a chance to learn from one another through the underrepresented-in-medicine (URIM) Mentorship Lattice Program at Children’s National Hospital program.
Dr. Odimayomi, a junior faculty and first year pediatric resident, was matched with Dr. Dooley. The mentorship program uses a lattice approach where residents are mentored by junior faculty who in turn are mentored by senior faculty. The mentorship program also includes professional development and community building opportunities. Professional development workshops cover topics such as financial planning, academic development and personal wellness in which mentees and mentors at every level interact and learn from one another.
Participating in the URIM mentorship program has given Dr. Dooley and Dr. Odimayomi an opportunity to connect to and support one another in their goals, both in their professional and personal lives. They meet in person, including having a few meals together, which helped them to build their relationship.
“I’ve learned from this program that some of the best mentors do not have to be just like you, and that there’s a lot someone can teach you from their differences as much as their similarities. It’s also important to be as honest and vulnerable as possible when sharing your career and life goals with a mentor," said Dr. Odimayomi.
After being born in Nigeria, Dr. Odimayomi’s family moved to Indiana. Growing up in the Midwest as an immigrant to the United States, Dr. Odimayomi saw the impact it had on her family and other immigrant communities. This led her to explore the intersection of education, acting and immigration through children’s theater while studying Human Biology at Stanford University. In medical school, she began advocating on the steps of Capitol Hill for the rights of immigrants with a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) student coalition. While pursuing a master’s in public health focused on health policy, she completed a capstone project on how the Public Charge Rule impacts immigrant access to and use of the healthcare system. She is also passionate about addressing issues of racial justice and racial equity in healthcare.
Dr. Dooley is a community pediatrician and currently serves as medical director of Community Affairs and Population Health in the Child Health Advocacy Institute at Children’s National. Having grown up in the area, Dr. Dooley always wanted to come back to D.C. and serve her local community. In medical school, she was a National Health Services Corps Scholar for all four years. Early in her career, she worked at a Federally Qualified Health Center in Washington, D.C., that largely serves immigrant populations. In this role, she was one of the first points of contact for a child or a family that recently moved to the United States. She found it humbling to have a role in helping them navigate a new country and making sure they felt supported and connected to resources to help them set the stage for success.
“The mentorship program is an important way to contribute to the institution’s diversity and inclusion efforts. Often, people find mentors by luck or happenstance, and it is incredibly important that we have an environment where people have an organized and equal way to access support, such as mentorship programs,” said Dr. Dooley.
This program was established last year by Aisha Barber, M.D., and Jessica Hippolyte, M.D., M.P.H., who also serve as co-chairs on the hospital’s Trainees and Students Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
As we are entering the third year of the pandemic, it is important to continue to build the resilience of our current and future physicians. Efforts to build a resilient healthcare workforce largely come through system changes — such as improving workflows — but also through personal connection and support. Drs. Dooley and Odimayomi are looking forward to building on their mentoring relationship and supporting each other in achieving their personal and professional aspirations.