Black Men in White Coats Youth Summit Inspires Local Youth to Pursue Healthcare Careers - Health & Medicine Policy Research Group

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Black Men in White Coats Youth Summit Inspires Local Youth to Pursue Healthcare Careers

May 15, 2020

On Saturday, March 7, 2020, just before the COVID-19 crisis made events like this seem surreal, Health & Medicine’s Chicago AHEC hosted the Black Men in White Coats Youth Summit at the Chicago Teachers Union Foundation. The summit brought together over 450 students, parents, educators, clinicians, and community leaders to inspire youth to consider careers in healthcare. The event was kicked off by Melissa Martin, Director of Health & Medicine’s Chicago Area Health Education Center, who introduced the founder of Black Men in White Coats, Dr. Dale Okorodudu, and U.S. Senator Richard Durbin, who expressed his commitment to diversifying the healthcare workforce. The summit was designed to provide insight into health care career options for students of all ages, from early elementary school to post-baccalaureate students.

Rush University Medical Center students and staff leading mini medical school sessions

Evidence clearly shows that youth who do not see themselves represented in a profession tend not to see it as an option as a future career pathway. Black men are increasingly less likely to attend medical school and hold careers as doctors in the United States, and this decline in the availability of Black doctors exacerbates racial disparities in access and quality of health care. As of 2015, matriculation rates for Black male medical school applicants had not risen above their 1978 levels, despite the expansion in medical school positions over the same period.

Students and healthcare professionals engaged in speed mentoring bingo

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis has further highlighted the disparities in health care across our state. The rate at which this disease is impacting already vulnerable populations is unacceptable, especially when clear solutions to improving the health and well-being of these communities exists.

How to Raise a Doctor Panel featuring Dr. Eric Whitaker, David Sanders, Rita Amadi, Ted Amadi Sr., Dr. LaMenta “Sweetie” Conway and Maggie West

Programs like the Black Men in White Coats Youth Summit provide the mentorship and encouragement young people of color need to inspire them to reach their potential to become the next generation of healthcare leaders. The program continues the conversation already started of finding ways to remove barriers that prevent youth from certain backgrounds from considering careers in healthcare; and, most importantly, they inspire action. We must plant the seeds of success in the minds of children early and often, and watch them as their dreams build, advocate for them, and be there to guide them through every step of the way.

Black Men in White Coats Panel Featuring: Dr. Linda Rae Murray, Dr. Pierre Johnson, Dr. Adonis Ducre, Dr. Trevonne Thompson and Dr. Abdullah Pratt

Health & Medicine would like to thank everyone who attended, sponsored, or otherwise supported this summit for their generosity of time, resources, and guidance. A more diversified health care workforce is key to a brighter future for all.

You can watch the livestream of the event here:

You can see the program agenda here and the program booklet here!

More about Black Men in White Coats:

Black Men in White Coats (BMWC) is an organization created by Dr. Dale Okorodudu to inspire young black males to enter medical school. The program offers career exposure, inspiration, and mentoring. Learn more here!

More about the Chicago Area Health Education Center:

The Chicago Area Health Education Center (AHEC) at Health & Medicine Policy Research Group is committed to addressing this disparity and developing a robust workforce to meet the needs of increasingly diverse communities. The Chicago AHEC is part of the National AHEC Organization developed by Congress in 1971 to recruit, train, and retain a diverse health professions workforce committed to under-served populations. Learn more here!