If you have additional questions about becoming a mentor, please reach out to our chairperson of Physician Recruitment.  She has been with the foundation and serving as a board member for nearly 5 years and  truly knows what it means to be a mentor.  She was also our Physician Mentor of the Year for 2019


Joy Elion, MD
I AM ABEL FOUNDATION, Chairperson, Physician Recruitment and Retention physicianmentors@iamabel.org



The following dates below are very important dates in the life of our mentees and the foundation.  We would greatly appreciate it if you would save these dates and attend most of them  if at all possible.  **Mentor Mentee Meet Up activities are especially important!


Mentor Mentee Networking Event (For Current Mentors But Prospective Mentors Are Welcome To Join Us!)                Hillside Bowling Alley!                                 Whose the best?  Mentees or Mentors?     Saturday, February 1, 2020, Time TBA

Mentors Making Mentors In Medicine Recruitment Lunch              Saturday, February 8, 2020, 3-6pm

Chicago Health and Medical Careers Citywide Student Conference Saturday, May 16, 2020, 8-5pm


Mentor Mentee Resilience Reception**                       Saturday, May 17, 2020, 3-6pm


Preparing Our Successors In Medicine Annual Student Gala and Pinning Ceremony **          Saturday, June 27, 2020, Location TBA


Top Docs and Hot Shots 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament Black Men In White Coats     

Loyola Center for Fitness and Health         Sunday, July 26, 2020, 8-5pm


Mentor Mentee Summer Luau!  **              Saturday, August 8, 2020, Beginning 2pm



Once I register, how soon will I hear from someone about becoming a mentor? When you receive your confirmation email after registering, you can rest assured that we have received your registration. Please do not worry if you do not hear from us immediately.   We always reach out at the time of mentor-mentee assignments (Late March - May annually).  We may reach out sooner if there is an immediate mentor need.  We will also begin to send you email updates about foundation news and activities.  Please save our email address (info@iamabel.org) so that our emails do not go to your spam folders.  Our emails contain tons of information about the life of the foundation and any upcoming activities.  As a mentor, you are always welcome to join


When will I be assigned a mentee?  Because our the students in our mentoring program are typically admitted just once annually (Each April), Mentors are usually assigned to the new mentees around that time (March - May annually).


When will I meet my mentee?  We ask that all new mentors meet their mentees for the first time at the annual Mentor Mentee Resilience Reception.  The ceremony is both festive and inspirational with a keynote speaker whose life exemplifies resilience.  This lovely ceremony that features amazing entertainment and good vibes, provides an ideal place to connect for the first time.  The reception usually occurs the 3rd Sunday afternoon of each May .   It is one day following our annual  Chicago Health and Medical Careers Citywide Student Conference.


Will I ever be asked to mentor a student prior to the May start date?  Yes.  Occasionally we will need you to take on a student offf cycle based on need.  We also run a coaching program (called Student Affiliate Program) for some of our students who are admitted on a rolling admission (usually older students) and we will sometimes ask you to take on an Affiliate Mentee if we have enough mentors for our traditional program.


Will I have a high school, college or post bacc student? Male or Female?   We will typically pair male to male and female to female so that there is increased synergy.  We will pair students per grade level based on mentor preference whenever possible.  Some Mentors prefer older students while others would love to mentor a high school student where you can have a long lasting impact


How are Student Affiliates paired with mentors? Student Affiliates are in our nontraditional coaching program and are not typically paired with physician mentors because they are either away at college, or as post-baccalaureate adult students, their schedules won't allow them to commit to the attendance requirements associated with the rigorous traditional mentoring program.  Our Student Affiliates are therefore paired with area medical student mentors who connect with these students by text, phone, skype and facetime.  Occasionally, a physician may be asked to mentor a student affiliate when it is logistically and practically a good fit.


How long will I mentor the student?  We are hoping you can develop the type of mentoring relationship that can be long lasting but at minimum, we ask that you commit to at least one year.  Each year, we will ask you if you can continue with that student. If your schedule permits, we may ask you to take on a new student as well (and we always hope that you will say yet) :-)


Many of the students are from underserved and underrepresented backgrounds.  Do I as a mentor need to be from an underrepresented background also?  NO! Not at all.  While it is fantastic when students can see themselves physically in their mentor, we know that there are many ways that a student and mentor may align.  We only ask that each mentor will take the time to invest in this student's emotional well being and get to know them so they may serve as their advocate and in many ways a friend.  It's important to recognize and learn from one another when we come from different cultures but this is also what it means to love, serve and be human.  All who truly care are welcome! The students need you.


Is there a Physician Mentor guideline book? Yes, we have an electronic PDF that discusses all the guidelines of the program and what to do and not to do.


Is there a cost to be a mentor?  No there is no cost to become a mentor, however many mentors take their mentees out to lunch or dinner as they get to know them.  There are, however, significant costs to running a foundation of this magnitude and your donations to support our ongoing efforts are always welcome.  

How will you choose my mentee? We try to match students based on where the student lives and where the physician practices or lives to make connecting easier.  That is why your demographic information, both work and home, are so important for us to receive.  Your mentee will only be given your mobile number and email address.  No other personal information will be shared. We also try to connect students based on their specialty interest, however this can change because they are so young.




 Mentor Expectations

• Share your experience and knowledge of the medical field. The students are an open template. There is so much they can learn from you. It is about imparting legacy, passing down traditions and sharing struggles and knowledge.  Many of our talented students come from tough neighborhoods where their singular voice to succeed is not often encouraged or welcomed. Helping the mentee navigate the road less traveled is as important as teaching them how to read an EKG or suture a laceration.  Coach and inspire our children to dare to dream big. That is what mentoring is about!

• You’re a doctor!  All of our students are selected due to their aspirations to become physicians. If they can shadow you, even better. If they can assist with reading to students or seniors, fabulous. But spending time with you and getting to know your journey while you get to learn theres, is the key to mentoring.  Together you can determine what will meet the needs of the mentee and help them on their pathway to becoming a physician.

• For those students actively applying to medical school, critiquing AMCAS or supplemental applications or personal essays may be of value. You get to decide based on the needs of your mentee. For those applying to college you can do the same. The goal is to keep them motivated and directed towards achieving their goals to become a physician.

• Agree to maintain your mentoring relationship for at least one year and for as long thereafer that it is beneficial, productive and feasible for all parties. We endeavor to remain in the lives of each mentee until they receive their white coats. That won’t always be possible, but that is the goal. We also know that try as we may, not all mentoring relationships are successful or a good match. If we find that the scholar and mentor are best paired with someone else, or either mentor or mentee request a switch, we will do our best to accomodate. 

Ultimately, we fully recognize that all of our mentors are volunteers so we appreciate the gift of your time. We want mentoring to be fun. Positively changing the trajectory of a student’s life is a joy. Please always let us know how we can make this experience better for you and the student. The benefit of becoming a mentor at I AM ABEL FOUNDATION is that both the student and the mentor are supported by a wonderful mentoring community.  We also have active case management to best support our students.  You therefore are not mentoring alone.  Our networking events provide a wonderful opportunity for physicians, medical students and mentees alike to connect with a wide range of talent, expertise and interest.  


Time Commitment

• Dedicate 2-4 hours with your mentee every 1-2 months per your own availability (Skype, Cafe, Hospital, Office, Phone, etc).  Students and their parents will arrange to meet you.  You are not responsible for picking them up or arranging their transportation

• Agree to participate in key Mentor Mentee Networking events annually where students can enjoy time with you, the mentor, in the setting of fun group activities that promote overall bonding.

 • Join us as time permits at any of our seminars that may interest you. The kids always love seeing the doctors drop by.


The Gala and Pinning Ceremony

One of the joys of becoming a medical student is the white coat ceremony.  Our Pinning Ceremony is the next best thing.  Our pinning ceremony takes place eat our annual student gala  and is the  first of many steps towards that short white coat.  If you are able to join us for the gala, Physician Mentors will pin their assigned mentee at the gala. 


Preparing Our Successors In Medicine Gala And Pinning Ceremony 2019 

Check out our students with Dr. Conway pictured center and Dr. Terry Mason, our 2019 Hero In Healthcare Awardee, to the far right


Seminar Facilitator Requirements

Saturday Morning Professor is our rigorous pre-clinical curriculum that is taught in two sections.  Our beginner curriculum teaches our students History Taking and culminates with an Observed Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE) with standardized patients.  In this curriculum, our physician mentors often serve as Saturday Morning Professor, to teach our curriuculum through the lens of the professor's profession.

If you decide to facilitate one of these sessions, you will need to prepare a 90-120 minute session that is in part instructional/didactic as well as interactive.  For example, an orthopedic surgeon might demonstrate casting or show X-rays that demonstrate common fractures. This might all reinforce the learning objective for learning how to take a thorough "history of present illness" following a sports injury. There are 10 Seminars throughout the year.  Our students often participate in Simulation Sessions at Cook County Hospital, where our professors integrate concepts in medicine with "live simulation."  The options for learning are endless and the students truly love it.   

The students truly love this time with their professors and often hang around long after the session has concluded.  We make certain to give you the learning objectives and a detailed curriculum so that your presentation is successful.  You do the rest by bringing the wealth of your experience and knowledge to our students as you teach the most basic tool of our trade - how to take a patient's history (H&P).


Northwestern Medicine

Our more advanced curriculum, for our "veteran" students who have successfully completed the beginner curriculum, participate in an intense subspecialty curriculum in both Gastroenterology and Cardiology (six months each) that are all taught by faculty at Northwestern University.  The gastroenterology curriculum is lead by Dr. John Pandolfino, Chief of Gastroenterology, Northwestern.  Students are exposed to concepts and technology in GI including scopes, pH manometry and research.  The cardiology curriculum is lead by Dr Ike Okuwosa, Advanced Heart Failure Cardiologist at Northwestern and long time physician mentor at I AM ABEL FOUNDATION. 



Our Vision

I AM ABEL FOUNDATION has claimed the year 2020 as our year of perfect vision.  We are positioning ourselves to make an even more significant impact on the health of our city as we prepare Chicago's students to be our future physicians and healthcare leaders.  We are incredibly proud to say that I AM ABEL FOUNDATION is the only community based physician mentoring pipeline program of it's type in the country.  We are partnered with Academic Centers like Rush, Loyola Stritch, Northwestern University and more along with Community Safety net Hospitals like The Loretto Hospital in Chicago, to help bring the career of medicine within reach of our Chicago area mentees.  I Am Abel Foundation seeks to bridge socioeconomic gaps and promote achievement amongst underrepresented minority inner city youth so that every child will have a shot at the not so impossible American Dream.


Our Mission 

I AM ABEL FOUNDATION seeks to identify and engage the large pool of untapped gifts, intellect and talent among our underrepresented inner city youth that have a heart to serve and give back with the singular mission of raising our next generation of Healthcare Heroes.  Although we touch thousands of students annually through our conferences, CPR courses and outreach camps, our flagship program is our Urban Bridges Medical Mentoring Pipeline programa that now has  more than 150 students in our pipeline programs including students in high school, college, post-baccalaureate programs, grad school and now even medical school who we continue to develop and support in their efforts to become physicians and future Healthcare Heroes.


Our Story

I AM ABEL FOUNDATION was founded following the murder of my 15 y/o cousin to Chicago’s Southside gun violence on Mother’s Day.  Six months to the day, my 14 y/o cousin was an accidental shooting victim who was left paralyzed from the waist down. Those moments changed the trajectories of my family and even Chicago itself. What started as a movement to combat violence expanded into the most innovative medical mentoring physician pipeline program of its kind not just in Chicago, but in the nation. We quickly realized that a significant source for healing must come from within the community itself. We sought to identify youth from these communities who had the intellect, leadership, humanitarian qualities along with interest in medicine and STEM who wanted to become change agents for their communities. What developed was a mission to empower and raise up our next generation of Healthcare Heroes and we couldn’t be more proud.



This is our annual student conference hosted at Rush University Medical Center the 3rd Saturday of each May that targets our Chicago area Middle, High School, College and Post-Bacc Students interested in careers in Healthcare. The conference opens with a powerful plenary session lead by icons in healthcare
followed by a wide array of breakout sessions each hour hosted by the finest leaders in Academia and Clinical Medicine, all experts in their respective fields both locally and nationwide.  There is also an Exhibitor’s Hall with Industry, Corporate and Academic Leaders in every area of healthcare present onsite.



This is our flagship program. Each year, 55 - 70 new students are competitively chosen annually to participate in I AM ABEL FOUNDATION’S year around Urban Bridges Medical Mentoring Pipeline Program designed to offer 1:1 physician mentoring, pre-med early academic advising, scholarly support in the areas of STEM as well as intense clinical and pre-med opportunities for Chicago area students underrepresented in the field of medicine. We partner with major academic centers and Chicago's Top Docs to provide the best possible experience for our students.

Our program tenants include:

Saturday Morning Professor Series
Academic Advising
One On One Physician and Med Student Mentoring
Academic STEM and MCAT Center
Humanitarian Service/Outreach/Medical Missions
Saturday Morning Professor Series


100 Hearts CPR we train thousands of students annually across the city in CPR/FIrst Aid and STOP THE BLEED.  All of the instructors in this amazing program are our mentees.  They are all Redcross Certified Instructors.  


Humanitarian Outreach   Our students also participate in a great number of humanitarian missions or global health experiences.  Our students have had the opportunity to serve in places like Haiti, Cuba, Costa Rica and more as well as numerous local charities and feeding programs. We are currently developing a program with a local women’s shelter that will be up and running in the fall of 2020.

The opportunities for these students is endless.  Please browse the website for a glimpse into other program areas of I AM ABEL FOUNDATION to numerous to list here