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Black Men and Women in White Coats

CU School of Medicine

7/17/2017

​The University of Colorado School of Medicine, in partnership with PreMed StAR, has produced three videos that present the perspective of three African-American members of our academic community. 

The videos showcase life on the Anschutz Medical Campus and here in metro Denver from the point of view of medical student Bailey Loving ​and faculty members Vaughn Browne, MD, PhD,​ associate professor of emergency medicine, and Amira del Pino-Jones, MD, assistant professor of medicine. 

The videos are part of a series that was originally called “Black Men in White Coats” that aimed to address the decline in the number of African American men who are considering careers in medicine. In CU’s case, the concept is being expanded to “Black Men and Women in White Coats” by including a young African American woman on the faculty. 

African Americans and women are underrepresented in the medical profession, according to a study published in October 2015 in JAMA Internal Medicine. 

In that article, “Diversity in Graduate Medical Education in the United States by Race, Ethnicity, and Sex, 2012,” researchers reported: There were 688,468 practicing physicians; 30.1 percent were female and 9.2 percent were of underrepresented minority groups in medicine, including 5.2 percent who were Hispanic and 3.8 percent who were black. 

At the same time, efforts to recruit students of diverse backgrounds, particularly black men, were falling short. 

According to the report “Altering the Course: Black Males in Medicine,” published in 2015 by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the number of black men applying and going to medical school has declined during the past 40 years. 

According to the AAMC report, there were 1,410 black male applicants to medical school in 1978, and in 2014, there were just 1,337. The number of black male matriculants to medical school over more than 35 years has also not surpassed the 1978 numbers. In 1978, there were 542 black male matriculants, and in 2014, there were 515. 

Dale Okorodudu, MD, now a practicing Pulmonary and Critical Care Physician founded Black Men in White Coats during his years as a resident physician at Duke University Medical Center.  He states, “The work we do is meant to inspire, mentor, and provide opportunities for future doctors.  Specifically, the Black Men in White Coats campaign strategically addresses the black male shortage among U.S. physicians.  If this problem is not curbed, our country may face serious health and economic consequences that will affect entire population.  These videos are a part of our effort to show young black men and women a different path in life, one many of them have never considered.” 

Our goal is to increase ethnic and socioeconomic diversity within the field of medicine,” Okorodudu said. “For black men in particular, our aim is to show compelling stories of individuals they can identify with, and in doing so, demonstrate that there is no reason they can’t become physicians as well." 

Shanta Zimmer, MD, associate dean for diversity and inclusion and interim senior associate dean for education, said diversity is a priority for the School of Medicine and an important contributor to excellence across all aspects of the profession. 

“These videos help us understand the obstacles and opportunities of the medical profession from the points of view of our peers on campus while celebrating the contributions of these members of our community,” Zimmer said. “Compassion and understanding are important traits of our profession and the inspiring individual stories shown in the videos of Bailey, Vaughn and Amira remind us that mentorship and role modeling are key to our calling.”

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