HSC announces key speakers for Black Men in White Coats event

Garth GrahamThe global head of health care for Google/YouTube and the founder of the Black Men in White Coats national organization will highlight a youth summit taking place Feb. 18 at The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth.

The goal of the Black Men in White Coats Youth Summit (BMWCx), which will be HSC’s signature Black History Month event, is to inspire underrepresented minority youth to consider careers in health care and lay the foundation for their success through mentorship and networking. The free event is open to third- through 12th-grade students, their parents, educators, health care professionals and community leaders.

The keynote speaker for the Feb. 18 event will be Dr. Garth Graham, director and global head of healthcare for Google/YouTube. Dr. Dale Okorodudu, who founded the organization in 2013 in response to the decreasing number of Black male applicants to medical school, will give an address at the beginning of the event.

“HSC is honored that we will have these two accomplished physicians on our campus,” said Dr. Sylvia Trent-Adams, HSC president. “These men are paragons of their profession, and I believe their presence at our Black Men in White Coats Youth Summit event will inspire future generations of health care providers while building on their legacy of health equity and diversity in medicine.”

Okorodudu is a League City, Texas, native who is an associate professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center and a member of its Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. He is a widely published author and documentarian who is one of the leading voices in the country on fostering diversity in medicine.

“We’re very excited to be partnering with HSC to bring the Black Men in White Coats Youth Summit to the DFW area,” he said. “This is the flagship location for Black Men in White Coats. COVID shut down these summits for a couple of years, and during that time, we were able to see all the health care disparities across the country. That just goes back to show how much this summit is needed and how urgent it is to really promote our youth to go to the field of health care.

“What these students need to understand is that we have their back,” he continued. “We’re here to support them, and we’re here to inspire them.”

Graham is a cardiologist, public health expert and a leading authority on social determinants of health and health equity. He has led several national efforts to tackle health disparities and social determinants of health and has dedicated his career to improving the lives of minority and underserved communities.

Graham earned a Doctor of Medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine and a Master of Public Health at the Yale School of Public Health. He studied internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and went through a cardiology fellowship at Johns Hopkins University. He holds three board certifications, including internal medicine, cardiology and interventional cardiology. He also holds an honorary Doctor of Laws from Regis College and is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine.

“I’m honored to be the keynote speaker at the Black Men in White Coats Youth Summit in Fort Worth,” he said. “Addressing the lack of diversity in medicine is critical for the future of patient-physician communication for everyone. Right now, there are so many barriers standing between young people of color and the health care professions. It’s up to those of us who work in the field to hold the door open and act as mentors for the next generation. Together, we can break down those barriers and build a more equitable, healthier future for us all.”

Elementary and middle school students attending BMWCx from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. also will participate in activities in HSC’s osteology and anatomy labs and go through a mini medical school. High school and undergraduate students will learn more about careers in health care and take part in clinical activities such as suturing and intubation in the university’s state-of-the-art simulation lab.

The need for BMWCx event in Fort Worth has never been more urgent. A 2020 New England Journal of Science study found that the number of Black men applying to medical school has dropped over the past four decades. While Black male medical students accounted for 3.1% of the national medical student body in 1978, in 2019, they accounted for just 2.9%. Without the contribution of historically Black medical schools, just 2.4% would be Black men. Studies also show that access to care and health outcomes improve when physicians more closely represent the patients they care for, partly because of increased trust.

To learn more and register for the free BMWCx event, go to unthsc.edu/BMWC.

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