DVIDS – News – Navy Medicine Hosts Discussion on “Black Men in White Coats” Documentary


Photo by BUMED PAO | Rear Adm Bruce Gillingham, Navy general surgeon and head of the office of medicine and … read more read more

In the United States, African Americans make up just 2% of all practicing physicians and 2.6% of dentists, compared to 13% of the country.

The disparity in medicine is greatest among black men who remain under-represented in American medical schools. In fact, over the past 40 years the number of black men who have applied to medical schools has declined.

This alarming trend – and the existing structural barriers for black men to become clinicians – is the subject of the American Medical Association (AMA) documentary, Black Men in White Coats. On December 10, 2021, the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) hosted a panel discussion to explore some of the film’s themes.

The event featured introductory remarks by Rear Admiral Bruce Gillingham, Surgeon General of the Navy, who noted that African Americans make up 4.4% of the medical profession, 4.7% of the dental profession and a total of 8.3% of the total of the officers of the staff corps in navy medicine.

“We need to seriously invest in increasing representation in the medical workforce and promoting inclusion within our communities,” said Gillingham. “It starts with objectively assessing where we are today, how we got here, and committing to tackling these issues head-on by developing workable solutions. “

Captain FA McRae, Navy Medicine Diversity Officer, served as moderator for the panel which consisted of six healthcare providers and military leaders-Capt. Daryl Daniels, Deputy Director, Medical Systems Integration and Combat Survival and General Surgeon; Captain Kevin Prince, commanding officer of Naval Medicine Readiness Training Command (NMRTC) Charleston, South Carolina, and a dentist; Captain Rodney Scott, endodontist at Naval Postgraduate Dental School Bethesda, Md; Capt Sennay Stefanos, an orthodontist with NMRTC Annapolis, Md; CAPT Sharese White, orthopedic surgeon at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital; and Captain Kevin Meyers, commander of the ROTC naval unit at George Washington University.

For most of the panelists, the desire to become a clinician started early in their life and was nurtured by families and mentors. Achieving their professional goals, however, was not without challenges and along the way they encountered little diversity in the professions they chose.

CAPTs Scott and White noted the rarity of seeing people from similar backgrounds in their daily work environment. “You get used to being one of the few or one of the few,” Scott noted. “I think a documentary like this reminds us that this is an issue we all need to be aware of. We need to let people know that there are opportunities for you and people who look like me, who look like us, need to be there to remind people that you can be successful if you try and if you know it’s a possibility.

“Watching this film reminded me of all the progress that remains to be made,” said Captain Daniels. “But it was great to see another generation of leaders come in and take up the challenge.”

The “Black Men in White Coats” initiative was devised by Dr. Dale Okorududu in response to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) report showing a decrease in the number of black applicants to medical schools. Over the past few years, the Black Men in White Coats initiative has produced a film, book, live discussions and interactive events aimed at drawing attention to inequalities in medicine, create mentors and inspire the next generation of black men. enter medicine.

The film examines ways to change the current trajectory, including fostering greater dialogue in communities of color. Part of the movie takes place at a Dallas barbershop where Dr. Okorududu and a pre-med student named Travon Manning have a candid conversation about the barriers that exist. For Captain Prince, having this open dialogue is essential to resolving existing issues and cited the scene as one of the most powerful in the film. “Back when I had hair, I used to go to hairdressers to get my hair cut,” says Prince. “I can tell you we solved world hunger, we solved poverty, we sent people to Neptune while I was getting my hair cut at the barber. It is a laboratory of ideas and reflection.

Of course, seeing more people with similar backgrounds and experiences can have a significant impact on the career paths young people choose. Panelists agreed that it is important for men and women of color to work in their communities so that the next generation can understand the opportunities available and conceptualize what is possible.

In the film, Dr. Okorududu remarks that “if you don’t sit at the table, you are on the menu”. The panelists discussed this point and looked at some of the barriers to entering medical schools. For Captain White, filtering black men from science, technology, engineering, and math [STEM] programs is an underlying problem that has fueled this problem. “The reason there aren’t more male doctors isn’t because medical schools aren’t letting them in,” White said. “It’s because their dream is to get killed before it even gets there. I think we need to start thinking a little earlier about how to get more black men to attend medical school and that starts with why if there is a large concentration of black men in a community, why are they excluded from programs that are based on STEM and once you get them there how are they filtered in college? “

Panelists agreed that it is essential to introduce black men to these programs earlier in their lives. Captain Prince said the fifth to ninth year was particularly a vital time. “It’s a time when you see them formulating their opinions about the world, themselves and their environment,” Prince said. “It’s a very curious time.”

Captain McRae closed the panel discussion by emphasizing the value of diversity, inclusion and equity in the healthcare system and the US Navy, saying, “We know that with our determination Commonly, we can and will increase diverse representation among healthcare providers in our nation and cultivate an environment of inclusion and equity with the Navy medicine team. “

Obviously, a lot of work remains to be done to address the issue of diversity in medicine and the discussion and film should be seen as a call for change rather than the end goal. As Captain White explained, “The energy that we put into identifying the problem must be used to solve it. “

To learn more about the film, please see: https://www.blackmeninwhitecoats.org

To watch the full roundtable, please see: https://youtu.be/7y6cUWC2M9g

Date taken: 12.10.2021
Date posted: 13.12.2021 11:07
Story ID: 410987
Site: FALLS CHURCH, VA, United States

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