Lawrence event encourages minority youth to consider medical careers


The second Black Men in White Coats Youth Summit was conducted Oct. 28 at Lawrence Central High School, presented by Community Health Network. The event featured speakers, a panel discussion and hands-on activities for elementary and high school students, all designed to encourage minority youth to consider medicine as a future career.

BMWC was established in response to a 2012 report from the Association of American Medical Colleges. It highlighted a decline in black men applying to medical school. Even in 2020, it was reported that less than 3 percent of physicians were black men.

Deborah Whitfield, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director of Community Outreach and Engagement for Community Health, said BMWC’s mission is to reverse that declining trend.

The organization partners with medical schools nationwide to fulfill that mission, and the annual youth summit has been hosted in Lawrence Township for the past couple of years.

“We are proud to be part of an event that inspires young black students to see themselves as medical professionals,” Whitfield said.

The summit included medical professionals who attended Lawrence Township during their own youth. Guest speakers such as Derek Isaiah Sloss, a first-year psychiatry resident at CHN, shared their stories

“We’re hoping to encourage minority students from many different backgrounds to come and try to open their eyes to medicine as a possibility,” Sloss said.

The summit also provided interactive activities for students, including birth simulations, CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and AED (automated external defibrillator) education, and lessons on anatomy — exposing them to various aspects of medical practice.

“I feel really good,” Whitfield said. “The students are excited and they’re engaged.”

Whitfield said CHN plans to present the event again next year in Lawrence.


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