By Jordan J. Hill –Blackdoctor.org
Let’s face it. We need more Black doctors.
With implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), nationwide physician shortages have been accelerated, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The AAMC estimates that the U.S. currently faces a shortage of 15,000 to 20,000 physicians, and it predicts that the shortage will grow to more than 90,000 physicians by 2020. Even more concerning is the disproportionate number of practicing minority physicians. Recent studies have shown that African-Americans make up just under 4 percent of practicing physicians, 6 percent of trainees in graduate medical education and 7 percent of medical school graduates. Wow.
A dwindling share of students pursuing physician careers are African-American men. 2.5% of medical school applicants were black men in 2011, a drop from 2.6% in 2002. Given the trend of the last thirty years, those numbers will only decrease.
Enter the Tour for Diversity in Medicine (TDM). TDM is an organization with a clear goal: to educate, inspire, and cultivate future minority physicians and dentists, and erase uneven health outcomes for racial and ethnic minorities through mentoring. Twice a year, Tour for Diversity in Medicine recruits a team of top minority doctors to travel by bus across the nation, touring universities and high schools to mentor minority students headed to medical school. Each bus tour covers thousands of miles visiting 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.
The Tour of Diversity in Medicine was founded by Alden M Landry, MD and Kameron Leigh Matthews, MD, JD. Dr. Matthews is a Chief Medical Officer in Chicago while Dr. Landry is an emergency medicine physician from New York. Now, they are teaming up on a nationwide tour! “We realized that there was a need to reach out to students on their own home turf. Therefore, we created the Tour of Diversity in Medicine to use an old method of college tours on a bus and visit schools and bring our advice, our mentoring, and our experiences to them,” explained Dr. Matthews.
The tour targets specific geographic areas with students from disadvantaged backgrounds, lower-income families and those who are underrepresented in medicine, offering them mentoring and support. So far, the tour has reached more than 2,700 students in 17 states. The mentors come from similar backgrounds of the students’. The tour begins again on Oct. 22nd and goes through the 24th. The schedule is:
Thursday October 22 – Portland State, Portland, OR
Friday October 23 – Washington State, Pullman, WA
Saturday October 24th – University of Washington, Seattle, WA
But it doesn’t stop with the tours. The Tour of Diversity in Medicine has additional programming : monthly online seminars, online research and educational tools, local networking events to bring together students and professionals, an adviser assistance program to assist advisers and counselors in their daily connections with their mentoring students, local single-day conferences and speaking engagements. Also, students have full access to their mentors, which is invaluable.
“At every stop we meet students who believed they couldn’t overcome perceived barriers of entering the healthcare profession, only to meet with one of the doctors who empower them with knowledge, resources and support to succeed. These same students will make a tangible difference for themselves and their communities by pursuing a career in medicine,” revealed Dr. Landry.