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The Voice of the Black Community

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Tour’s goal: Recruit more black doctors
National initiative stops at JCSU on Feb. 21
 
Published Thursday, February 16, 2012 8:28 am
by Herbert L. White

A national initiative to recruit blacks to the medical field will stop at Johnson C. Smith University next week.

Tour for Diversity in Medicine, a campaign launched by doctors from Boston and Chicago, will offer premedical enrichment activities to students from area colleges and high schools Feb. 21 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Grimes Lounge. Eleven doctors, dentists and medical school students are traveling to five historically black colleges in the South.

Although minorities comprise 26 percent of the U.S. population, African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans combined represent 6 percent of practicing physicians and 5 percent of dentists.

 “Our goal is to increase interest in health care as careers for students from minority populations and help them overcome perceived barriers to medical and dental school, such as high tuition costs, long training and a challenging application process,” said Alden Landry, M.D., an emergency room physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and co-director of the tour. “By offering workshops with established health care practitioners from similar backgrounds to theirs, we believe we can open the pipeline for talented young people of color who can make a significant difference in improving health care in the U.S.”

Landry noted research has found that patients who receive care from physicians of the same race rate their medical visits as more satisfying and report being more engaged in their treatment than with physicians of other races.

 “As our nation’s population becomes increasingly diverse, we need health care providers who have the cultural competency to engage their patients fully with their treatment and ensure good health outcomes,” said Gillian Barclay, D.D.S., Dr. P.H., vice president of the Aetna Foundation, which is sponsoring the tour. “Multiplying the number of men and women from underrepresented minorities is a fundamental strategy to achieving health equity in the United States.”

Session topics range from the application process and admissions tests to choosing the right specialty to an overview of health disparities. Students will have the opportunity to interact with the presenting physicians, dentists and medical students and hear their stories about how they overcame obstacles to pursue a career as a health care professional.

“Without the assistance of mentors over the years, I would not be a doctor today,” said Kameron Matthews, M.D., J.D., co-director of the Tour for Diversity in Medicine and a family physician in Chicago. “We want to connect students with physicians and dentists who are dedicated to their growth and their future.”
Students can register online at www.tour4diversity.org. For more information contact Melita Mitchell at (704) 378-1041.

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