How 2 doctors combat a lack of diversity in medicine
November 30, 2015 at 2:00 am
Diversity (or lack thereof) in the medical profession is an irrefutable issue, but one we don’t oftentimes address. But how could we not with black and Latino people making up only 15 percent of all U.S. medical school applicants in 2011? To combat this by Dr. Kameron Matthews, Chief Medical Officer from Chicago and Dr. Alden M. Landry, an emergency medicine physician from New York, established “Tour for Diversity in Medicine.” They mentor, inspire and cultivate future minority physicians and dentists in an effort to erase uneven health outcomes for racial and ethnic minorities.
Fed up with the lack of diversity in medical classrooms around the country, Dr. Matthews and Dr. Landry decided to get on a bus with a group of their friends and colleagues and be champions for the change they wished to see. Thus, the Tour for Diversity in Medicine was created says Dr. Landry. Tour for Diversity in Medicine has evolved into a premier support system and pipeline for the next generation of minority doctors.
Twice a year, a recruited team of top minority doctors travel by bus across the nation, touring Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities, high schools and specific geographic areas with limited underrepresented minorities in medicine.
“We believed the best way to address the problem was to reach out to students, campus by campus, and cultivate a diverse group of prospective medical professionals,” says Dr. Matthews. “It’s always helpful for students to see people achieving what they want to achieve. Our goal is to work with students from disadvantaged backgrounds, lower-income families and those who are underrepresented in medicine to offer mentorship and support.”
While the life expectancy is at a record high for US citizens, reaching an average 79 years of life, black Americans still trail behind, reaching on average only 74. And health care is an integral part of not only longevity but also quality of life. Believe it or not, the shortage of minorities in health care has a direct correlation with the disparities in access to healthcare in low-income communities. That’s because minority medical students are likelier than any other group to practice in underserved areas. Additionally, several studies have found that patients who are treated by physicians with whom they share racial or gender characteristics report greater satisfaction with their care and higher rates of medication compliance.
If we are ever to see change in our nation, our communities, and for our health, we have to stand up, be accountable and create it. Tour for Diversity in Medicine is leading the way.
For more information on the organization and the next tour, please visit www.tour4diversity.org.