A rather excellent initiative is afoot in the state of Mississippi. The unsurprising fact of life for many of that state’s African-American patients is that African-American representation among physicians in that state remains startlingly low. Though they make up more than a third of Mississippi’s population, lest than 3 percent of its active physicians is black. An African-American myself who was raised in a bordering state — Tennessee — I wish that a similar plan had been offered.
Dr. Kameron Matthews explains to a group of mostly black college students options for paying for an expensive medical degree. Matthews is one the organizers of the Tour For Diversity in Medicine, which is a group of minority physicians visiting historically black colleges like Jackson State University talking to students about the medical field. She says that having more black doctors can lead to much better health care outcomes for black patients.
Though I did not attend a predominantly black college, I see the richness in such a strategy. The art of medicine is ripe with anecdotes accurately portaraying the capable, diligent, caring, and inspirational physician; it is what continues to make our profession desirable and reflective of the talent exemplified by the majority of its workforce. That is why I support any initiative to make the profession truly a reflection of the people who are served by it.