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More than 200 students from Tulsa Public Schools came to Hillcrest Healthcare System on Nov. 1 as part of the Black Men in White Coats Youth Summit.

With a mission to increase the number of black men in medicine through exposure, inspiration and mentorship, a local chapter of the organization had students swapping their backpacks for a lab coat.

Although they make up about 12% of the population, black Americans typically make up only 5% of the nation’s physicians, and black men make up just 2%.

Black men in white coats held a youth summit at Hillcrest Healthcare System in Tulsa, Oklahoma on November 1, 2022. (Supplied)

The recent event included hands-on clinical stations, panel discussions, a networking lunch, and a keynote address from Dr. Chris McNeil, founder of the Tulsa Chapter for Black Men in White Coats.

“My expectations were exceeded beyond belief. The event had many moving parts and components that would not have been possible without so many amazing individuals going above and beyond the call of duty for these children” , Dr. McNeil told the Black Wall Street Times.

Black Men in White Coats breaks down the disparities

Hillcrest’s teachers, counselors and leaders came together successfully to deliver an experience worthy enough to hold a teenager’s attention, Dr. McNeil said.

“Once they arrived, the experience needed to captivate them for four hours to engage with what life as a healthcare professional might be like. Hearing them talk to each other and other medical professionals over lunch was all the confirmation I needed that we had accomplished our original mission of exposing students to a fraction of what they are capable of,” added Dr. McNeil.

The National Chapter of Black Men in White Coats formed after a 2013 report by the Association of American Medical Colleges showed the already low number of black applicants was dwindling.

Meanwhile, Dr. McNeil founded the Tulsa Chapter in 2020 when Dr. Dale Okurududu urged him to take the lead after a screening of the BMWC Documentary in his final year of medical school. With the support of mentors and colleagues, Dr. McNeil formed a chapter of the Oklahoma State University Health Sciences Center in affiliation with the OU-TU School of Community Medicine.

More black Americans are entering medical school nationwide

Collecting data on the number of black male doctors in the state, Dr. McNeil’s work soon led him to organize other BMWC events at Ascension St. John’s Health Center in Tulsa and public schools across the country. ‘Union.

“Students need to be exposed to multiple career options. Good grades and school grades should be celebrated just as much and often as touchdowns and layups,” Dr. McNeil said.

Black Men in White Coats expose young people to the medical field

Notably, in an unprecedented spike, black student enrollment in medical schools has soared 21% since 2020, according to a report from Boston’s local GBH NPR station.

“We’ve never seen such an increase in such a short time,” said Norma Poll-Hunter, manager of workforce diversity efforts at the Association of Medical Colleges. His data shows patients are more likely to report satisfactory care when they can see themselves in the physicians caring for them.

For Dr. McNeil of Black Men White Coats Tulsa, however, these positive numbers don’t necessarily translate equally in all states. For starters, racial data on doctors in Oklahoma is difficult to verify.

“While the statistic is exciting, the work that has been done so far lets us know that the data is much more integrated and complex than the enrollment rates at any given time, especially when it comes to the Oklahoma,” Dr. McNeil said. . “Now is not the time to get complacent, especially since we only earned four MDs in one year, which may or may not have left the state.”

Reversing Low Rates of Black Male Physicians

To make matters traumatically worse, Tulsa lost one of its most distinguished black doctors in a mass shooting in June. The attacker, a black man devastated by back pain from surgery, returned to the Natalie Medical Building on the Saint Francis Medical Campus to attack his own doctor. Forty five years Michel (Michelet) Louis kill Dr. Preston J. Phillips and three others before committing suicide.

Dr. Preston J. Phillips. Courtesy of Saint Francis Health System

When it comes to increasing the number of black doctors in the field, Dr. McNeil said it starts at home.

“Exposure and support are key. The path to becoming a Heisman candidate is much easier to see in Oklahoma than becoming a medical professional because of the way the path is described, but the vision for the future begins at home.

Black Men in White Coats expose young people to the medical field

Ultimately, the mission of Black Men in White Coats is to empower black communities and Oklahomans in general.

If no doctors are recruited from our black communities, the community continually loses its ability to be self-sufficient,” said Dr. McNeil.

“Each doctor supports more than 17 jobs nationwide and nearly 12 jobs in Oklahoma. The net worth a doctor creates in Oklahoma is about $2 million, so if we’re actively looking to build wealth in regions and keep Oklahomans healthy and in the workforce, we should consider a neighborhood and community approach to recruiting more healthcare professionals by building career affinity at an early age.

To learn more about job shadowing and other opportunities, email [email protected] or visit blackmeninwhitecoats.org.

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