Black Men in White Coats aims to diversify health and medicine in Rhode Island.
On a picture-perfect fall Saturday made for soccer games and pumpkin-picking, scores of local families chose to gather in packed auditoriums and classrooms at The Warren Alpert Medical School to discuss ways to strengthen and diversify the future of health care.
More than 200 people attended the Black Men in White Coats youth summit on Oct. 29, an event organized and hosted by the Medical School and Brown’s School of Public Health. The free public event included a full day of events, workshops, forums, and presentations intended to introduce kids and families to careers in health and medicine and offer opportunities for mentorship and networking.
Kids and teenagers in third grade through college met with medical students, resident physicians, faculty members, and health professionals, learning strategies, engaging in discussion, and receiving advice and inspiration.
The summit was geared towards kids—particularly from racial and ethnic groups underrepresented in medicine—as well as the people involved in supporting and raising children, says co-organizer Rosedelma Seraphin, MA, assistant director of the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs.
“We wanted to be able to give parents, caregivers, educators, and community leaders the tools and information they need to support and nurture a child’s interest in medicine and health,” Seraphin says. “And we want students to leave feeling energized, with excitement and passion for a career in medicine, and also feeling like they have the support to be able to get there.”
The event was held in collaboration with Dale Okorodudu, MD, a pulmonary and critical care physician in Dallas, who started the nonprofit organization Black Men in White Coats in 2013 in response to alarming data from the Association of American Medical Colleges showing that the already low number of black males applying to medical school was decreasing even further.