Brotman Offers Mentor Program for High School Students

Experts are predicting a tremendous shortage of doctors and surgeons in the coming years, thanks to a shrinking pool of medical school graduates and an increase in demand caused by aging baby boomers and health care reform.  Two-thirds of California is experiencing a shortage of doctors, according to the Huffington Post. Almost 30 percent of California’s physicians are above the age of 60, and the problem may well be getting worse. More doctors are close to retirement in California than in any other state in the country.
To help pave the way for tomorrow’s doctors today, high school students are participating in a Medical Mentors Program at Brotman Medical Center that brings local students into the world of surgery and a doctor’s practice to show them the challenges and rewards of a career in medicine.
“My father was a physician and I remember how enjoyable it was to go with him to the hospital or to visit patients,” said Dr. Ian Armstrong, medical director of the Southern California Spine Institute at Brotman Medical Center and a board certified neurosurgeon who started the Medical Mentors Program.  “It was enlightening to me to see the true rewards of helping the ill get better and I wanted to pass that passion along to the next generation of students who may be considering a career in medicine.”
Dr. Armstrong has taken many local students inside the operating room at Brotman Medical Center in Los Angeles so they can observe and discuss a surgical case.  “They scrub in with me and wear surgical gear just like I do and they get to see how today’s advanced surgical technology is used to help patients with spinal disorders. They’re eyes grow large as we begin a surgery and the wonderment in their faces soon filled with questions about anatomy and surgical techniques.  Seeing the look on their faces makes me think back to why I went into medicine in the first place. It’s rewarding for all of us.”
He established the Southern California Spine Institute Medical Mentors program based on the premise that “one must be able to see and envision in order to become.”
Besides high school students, Dr. Armstrong also has engaged youth from the inner city and underprivileged areas.  “There may be youth walking around with great potential in their heart and the creativity and smarts to cure cancer in their heads, but they just need to tap into it to capture the true passion of what they are capable of achieving.”
Dr. Armstrong said the students like dressing the part. “When they put the white coat on or climb into surgical scrubs, they can see themselves in that role some day,” he said.  “It’s transforming to them and to me as well.”
For more information or to enroll in Southern California Spine Institute Medical Mentors program, please call the Southern California Spine Institute at Brotman Medical Center at 310-557-0741 or visit

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