GREENSBORO, N.C. — Health experts say there is an urgent need for more Black doctors in hospitals, clinics, and general practice. There's an effort across the U.S. to increase the number of Black physicians and dentists in our communities because healthcare professionals say that number is critically low.
"The number of Black men in medicine in 1978 was 3.1% in a student medical class, and in 2019 the number decreased to 2.9%. So you're talking about a 50-year span where we saw a decrease in the percentage of Black men in the medical student body," said Dr. Wesley Ibazebo, an Interventional Spine Physiatrist.
Dr. Ibazebo is one of the tri-chairs of the Black Men In White Coats Summit that will be held for the first time in Greensboro on Sunday, November 6, 2022.
The group is partnering with the Greensboro Medical Society, Cone Health, NC A&T State University, and Guilford County Schools to introduce hundreds of middle and high school students to careers in healthcare. The summit focuses on representation, mentorship, and giving young Black and Brown children exposure to the possibilities.
"We want to make sure we are putting boys and girls in front of Black doctors so they can understand that they too can advance in the healthcare field," Dr. Ibazebo said.
Dr. Dale Okorodudu started Black Men In White Coats in Texas to address the disparity. Since 2013, doctors across the country have volunteered their time to talk with students who might be interested in practicing medicine but don't know the steps to get there.
At the Summit in Greensboro, students will participate in hands-on activities and dissection labs, get valuable information from physicians, pharmacists, and dentists plus make connections that can help guide and mentor them through medical school.
Black Men In White Coats believes having a mentor in your corner makes a difference.
"I remember distinctly when I was a senior in high school, and I had a teacher who showed me it was a possibility for me. And that was the catalyst for me to continue down this pathway, so I want to give back," Dr. Iazzebo said.
The Black Men In White Coats one-day Summit is Sunday, November 6, from 1 pm to 5 pm in the Student Center at NC A&T State University.
The free event is open to middle, high school, and college students. Parents are also welcome to attend and will receive information on how to financially and emotionally support students on a medical path.
Click here for the registration link.