Ohio State University Hopes to Boost Number of Black Doctors With ‘MD Summer Camp’

Prince Mbomnda, left, and Sean Jackson, right, learn CPR during MD Camp at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center. The annual summer event run by medical students aims to attract more minority students to careers in health care and provides them with lectures from top doctors. (Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch)

Grace Davenport has always been interested in becoming a doctor, but she might not have known pursuing a career in medicine was even possible had she not had a pediatrician who looked like her.

Davenport, 16, of Columbus, is Black and if she becomes a doctor like she hopes to, she’ll be one of very few in her field. Just 5% of American doctors identified as Black in 2018, the most recent year for which data is available from the American Association of Medical Colleges.

“Every time I go somewhere outside of my doctor’s office, I get really excited when I see someone who looks like me because I just don’t always see that,” Davenport said.

The share of Black doctors in the U.S. has increased by just 4% in the past 120 years, research released in April from UCLA shows. The share of Black doctors who are men hasn’t increased since the 1940s, according to UCLA.

Davenport hopes she can be part of a generation of doctors who change this nearly stagnant trend.

She was one of about 40 high schoolers from Columbus and other parts of Ohio who participated in “MD Camp” at Ohio State University. The annual summer event run by medical students aims to attract more minority students to careers in health care and provides them with lectures from top doctors, said Rachel Sperling, a second-year medical student and organizer.

“To have people like them who are encouraging them and showing them that people of all different colors and backgrounds can be doctors and pursue medicine and be successful … that’s really the goal here,” Sperling said.

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SOURCE: The Columbus Dispatch, Max Filby

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