Students at Central are getting a fantastic opportunity to meet with medical students to learn how they can pursue a career in medicine too.
“I enjoy it because you don’t get opportunities like this often,” said junior TeiShanek Beach.
The monthly meetings are through a partnership with the Student National Medical Association. The goal is to bring more diversity into the medical field.
“Right now, across the country, only six percent of physicians are minorities. Comparing that to how many minorities we have and the growth and population of minorities in America, it’s really important for us to have more minority physicians,” explained Tomi Adewumi, a 2nd year medical student at Oklahoma State University. “We need more people who look like us in medicine so we can cater for the health of people better. In my class, we have about four black kids. It’s really important for us to get out there and see what stage we can catch kids to get them interested in medicine.”
Tomi and the other med students from OU and OSU decided that high school was the right time.
“That’s when we started to think about what we were going to do with the rest of our lives. That’s why we created this program – essentially to get them to see the importance of this and also to help them see they can do it and see people like them in these white coats,” he said.
In February, the med students covered different specialties and the many paths students can take to get there. One of the biggest takeaways was that they don’t have to start at a four-year university. The medical students assured the group that they could start at a community college, which is typically more affordable and more accessible, to get their general education courses taken care of first.
“I really want to be a doctor,” said TeiShanek. “Seeing other people who have done it makes me feel like I can do it.”
TeiShanek said she didn’t have any doctors in her life that she could ask questions, but she wants to be a pediatric oncologist because cancer runs in her family. Tomi said that lack of exposure is a common problem that keeps many kids from seeing themselves in that role. He hopes by coming to Central – and more schools in the future – that they can help students by answering any questions they may have and showing them that a career in medicine is within their reach.
"We’re not physicians yet, but those questions they have at this point we can answer because we’ve been through that,” he said. “This is one of the most important things anyone can experience in high school right now.”
When they meet again, the med students want to meet with the students in smaller groups and let them test their diagnostic skills on an imaginary patient. Later in the year, they plan to bring the students on campus to let them see what medical school is like. Hopefully by then the students will be picturing themselves in those classes and labs.