Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) is on a mission to increase diversity within biopharmaceutical careers, a growing field that manufactures medicines for patients.

In July, the biopharmaceutical company announced its new partnership with Jack and Jill of America in the extension of his Tomorrow’s Innovators Historically Black College (HBCU) initiative, which aims to improve the recruitment and retention of black practitioners in biopharmaceuticals.

The overall objective of this exclusive three-year collaboration? To close the diversity gap in the high-paying medical field and ultimately improve health outcomes for minorities.

“We’ve been working on this collaboration for a year now,” says Shamika Williams. Senior Director of HBCU Strategy at Bristol Myers Squibb continues, “The opportunity to partner with Jack and Jill helps us plant seeds with young students and their parents to help them see what they can achieve in the world. biopharmaceutical industry.

Doctor talking to boy

The company hopes to achieve this by exposing the next generation of middle and high school students to medical career paths in the biopharmaceutical industry through education and outreach.

“You have to have information to be informed. My role is to ensure the presence and voice of black individuals in this industry. We have a huge gap from an advocacy perspective,” she explains, pointing to the lack of healthcare professionals involved in clinical trials and medical marketing. “From a health care perspective, we want to make sure there are voices at the table that are representative of the black community.”

So far, so good. Williams reports that the program’s launch at Jack and Jill’s 45th Biennial National Convention in July was a success. “During the convention, I saw light bulbs go out for some students. Some of the parents also stopped by the booth to ask questions about BMS and how they can be part of the industry. »

For parents wondering how to encourage their kids to consider high-paying medical jobs without putting pressure on them, Williams says it all starts with a conversation.

“You want your child to tap into their passion,” she advises. “Many times I hear young people say they want to contribute to society as a whole. Being in this industry, I found there was a huge opportunity to be given to the community as a whole. When a patient comes to you and says “thank you because I’ve been here five more years and got to see my child’s wedding”, you realize the impact you’ve had on the whole of the community.

Doctor and nurse examining chart in hallway

She continues: “As a parent, I would use this as an opportunity to talk to children about the impact of helping people overcome disease. I would also encourage them to be a representative voice in an industry that has not been representative of our voice in the past. If I were a parent, I would also use COVID as an opportunity to inspire young students to enter the healthcare and biopharma industry. Start having conversations about the disparate impact of health care in the black community. We need them to be a voice at the table. We need them to drive innovation.

According zippiaonly 4.7% of practicing physicians are black in the United States.

Williams concludes, “We need to have black people in the room to influence the landscape of their peers in the industry. I don’t think students realize the plethora of opportunities that exist in our industry, as well as the possibility of doing well financially. It is also possible to have an impact on your local community.

To learn more about how BMS plans to ensure patients of color receive optimal care by bringing more black doctors and health experts into the field, visit: bms.com

Editor’s Note: This story/interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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