According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the number of African American men enrolled in U.S. medical schools declined from 1978 to 2014, from 542 to 515.
Medical schools like the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, are using a video outreach campaign to help inspire underrepresented minority students to consider becoming physicians.
Dr. Lynn Gordon, senior associate dean for diversity affairs at the David Geffen School of Medicine said, “We have a responsibility as a medical school to welcome the best and brightest young people from an array of ethnicities and social backgrounds to consider a career in medicine. To do that, we first must make them aware of the possibilities.”
The video profiles of young black doctors, provided by Black Men In White Coats, will be displayed on the school’s website, shared via social media and distributed by the medical school’s community engagement groups, as well as other outreach groups affiliated with the school.
The campaign’s founder, Dr. Dale Okorodudu, MD, hopes the videos will inspire young people of color to pursue a career that many have never considered and to give them the confidence to pursue that career. The best way to reach this young audience is through social networking.
Dr. Dale said, “The younger generations do not communicate the same way we did prior to social networking. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and one of the originators of it all, Black Planet; these are what they know now. If we want to reach them, we need to communicate like they do. Not to mention, mentoring via this model is much more efficient than traditional models. If we are serious about increasing diversity in the field of medicine, during the current Facebook era, this is how to do it.”
Creating awareness through documentary videos is one part of the initiative, mentoring is another piece. The Black Men in White Coats mentoring program matches black male physician mentors with 1 to 3 premedical students. The program uses a virtual eMentoring model that is not limited by money, time, or location. Also online recruitment opportunities will be provided for premedical students thanks to a partnership with PreMed StAR.
Curriculum for the student mentees covers topics such as applying to medical school, how to build relationships with professors, tips on receiving letters of recommendations and what they should expect to see on the MCAT.
The David Geffen School of Medicine is the fifth school to participate in this campaign since it began in 2013. The other participating schools are UT Southwestern, UNC School of Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine, and the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.