Baptist Memorial Health Care, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Baptist College of Health Sciences along with other partners will host the Black Men in White Coats Youth Summit on Saturday, April 28 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Dr. H. Edward Garrett Sr. Auditorium on the Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis campus, located at 6027 Walnut Grove Road in Memphis.
The summit will include information and resources on pursuing a medical or science career, networking opportunities with physicians and other professionals who wear white coats, and a presentation from keynote speaker Dr. Dale Okorodudu on, “Playing the Game—How to be Successful as a Minority in Medicine.”
Dr. Okorodudu, creator of Black Men in White Coats, founded DiverseMedicine Inc. in 2011 because he believed a number of highly qualified underrepresented minority and economically disadvantaged premedical students were having their medical career dreams crushed because there was nobody present to show them how to do it.
A 2015 Association of American Medical Colleges report—Altering the Course: Black Males in Medicine—supported Dr. Okorodudu’s belief. The report found that the number of African-American males applying to and graduating from medical school was lower in 2014 than in 1978 despite a general increase in the number of black male college graduates. The report also noted that the proportion of male applicants compared to female applicants was lower for African-Americans than any other racial or ethnic group.
“As we reflected on MLK50 and the question, “Where do we go from here?”, the Association of American Medical Colleges report on Black Males in Medicine became extremely relevant to us,” said Keith Norman, vice president of government affairs for Baptist Memorial Health Care. “It provided a good overview of the current state of diversity in medicine. While progress has been made in the medical field, especially among minority female medical students and graduates, there is more work to do to have a truly diverse and representative medical force.”
The decline among black male medical students and graduates also is evident at UTHSC in Memphis, Tennessee.
“Having a diverse medical body makes a difference to patients,” said Dr. Stanley Thompson, staff emergency physician at Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto and regional medical director for Team Health. “Research and anecdotal evidence show that patients are more responsive to physicians with whom they can relate. This, ultimately, affects the overall health of patients.”
AAMC identified a number of factors that could be contributing to the decline among black male medical students, including a lack of mentors or role models in medicine; public perceptions of black men; a lack of financial resources; lower participation rates in science, technology, engineering and math fields among black students; underperforming K-12 public schools; and the attractiveness of other careers that require less education.
The report identified support networks, access to information and premedical education programs as key factors to possibly changing this trend. Those and other factors contributed to Baptist approaching UTHSC about partnering to host Okorodudu and the youth summit.
“To have the greatest success and most impact, we knew it was important to partner with other invested organizations, such as the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, the NAACP Memphis Branch and the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel,” said Norman. “It is our hope that our combined efforts will result in a more diverse physician pool and better patient-physician relationships and greater access to care for low-income, minority and non-English-speaking patients.”
Other summit partners include the Bluff City Medical Society, the Bluff City Medical and Pharmaceutical Auxiliary, the National Association of Health Services Executives and the Memphis Medical Society.
For more information about the Black Men in White Coats Youth Summit, please visit https://www.baptistonline.org/events/black-men-in-white-coats.