TCOM student organization hosts virtual youth summit

By Steven Bartolotta

TCOM Students learning how to suture, perform CPR and applying a tourniqueLearning how to suture, perform CPR and applying a tourniquet was on full display as TCOM’s Student National Medical Association (SNMA) helped host a virtual session of Black Men in White Coats Youth Summit. The activities, which were conducted in the HSC Simulation Lab, were for elementary, junior high students.

Dr. Dale Okorodudu, the founder of Black Men in White Coats, chose the SNMA group at TCOM to host this virtual event despite the COVID-19 pandemic. They were asked to develop virtual activities using tools that the participants could find in their own homes without having to purchase anything.

“As the SNMA TCOM President, I was responsible for rallying my officers and getting creative,” said TCOM second-year student Linda Ahaiwe. “We spent hours meeting with Dr. Dale and the other leaders of the summit to develop virtual activities. It was extremely challenging because using a virtual platform meant that we couldn’t interact with the students in the way that we’re used to.”

The hard work paid off. The SNMA group developed four different activities that displayed some of the necessary skills for anyone interested in pursuing a career in medicine. They ranged from how to perform CPR to practical steps to take when someone is having a seizure.

Using the virtual platform “Event Mind”, the students displayed each of the activities while the participants chatted with the students to answer any of their questions.

“For me personally, it was a blast,” TCOM student Imaad Zama said “To get our creative juices flowing and put together a healthcare story that was easy to follow and engaging was a lot of fun. The children enjoyed it because they had the ability to replicate the healthcare procedures at home in real time rather than just viewing us.

Hosting the event was never in question for members of the SNMA. Black Men in White Coats was founded in 2013 by Dr. Okorodudu who noticed the disturbing trend of a decreasing number of black males applying to medical school.

The statistics paint an even bleaker picture with the medical field as a whole only consisting of roughly three percent black doctors. The goal of SNMA each year has been to diversify the field of medicine with clinically excellent, culturally competent and socially conscious physicians.

“I believe we are playing an active role in achieving the goals of BMWC and SNMA,” Ahaiwe said. “Students that may not have the exposure to medicine in their families or communities are able to attend these summits and see medicine in action.”

One of those groups in attendance were the children of Dr. Okorodudu himself. Despite the obstacles of a virtual platform, TCOM’s SNMA rose to the occasion and delivered a virtual summit that has planted a seed for the next generation to follow.

“I believe it is valuable because it opens new doors for these children who may not have thought about medicine as a possibility,” Zaman said. “They gain an educational experience at a young age. Further, they see us minorities in this field and the doubts they may have on pursuing medicine are now gone.”

“I am extremely proud of the 2020-2021 executive board of SNMA TCOM for their resilience throughout this entire process,” Ahaiwe said. “It was different for sure, but we rose to the challenge and presented fun and creative activities for the students to practically learn some cool things the field of medicine has to offer. We were happy to receive positive reviews from the students, Dr. Dale and his children as well.”

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