April 2023 President’s Message

April 2023 President’s Message

Doc for a Day event part of increasing trust in medicine

by Maurice Duggins, MD —

MSSC and the Family Medicine Interest Group at KUSM-W held a special Doc for a Day event April 15 for about 70 middle and high school students. The goal was to encourage more minority students to consider careers in medicine.

I began the day by sharing how I decided to become a physician when I was 12 years old, the same age as some of the students. Kwame Eagleton, MD, talked about different jobs in health care, including those that don’t require a college degree. Graham Pankratz, MS4, who coordinated the event, then provided an overview of the activities.

The students rotated among different learning stations where they practiced such skills as suturing, taking vitals and performing CPR. Medical students operated the stations. A diverse group of MSSC physicians also interacted with the students and shared why they enjoyed being a doctor.

Such outreach efforts are important. A key way to increase trust in medicine in our diverse community is increasing diversity in our community caregivers – both physicians and allied health professionals.

David Skorton, MD, president of the Association of American Medical Colleges, recently stated: “The health inequities that have long plagued our health system are rooted, in part, in bias, discrimination and systemic racism. And it is our responsibility in medicine to address these issues whenever we have the opportunity – not only because we have to in a professional capacity, but because we have to as human beings.”

This speaks to the importance of all of us working together to create a more acceptable and encouraging environment for patients. No one expects that you only take care of people who look like you, nor should the American population expect to be taken care of only by people who look like them. However, having representation demonstrates that patients can trust the profession more now than they could in the past.

This increase in trust and representation can also lead to improved health outcomes. Research shows that Black patients, particularly Black men, have better health outcomes when they are seen by Black physicians.

I recently attended the 2023 Student National Medical Association conference in Hartford, Connecticut. Over 2,500 medical students and future medical students were there to learn about medicine and how to get into and through medical training. This was a very encouraging conference, because it signaled significant hope for the underrepresented minorities in medicine.

Though on a smaller scale, MSSC’s Doc for a Day was also encouraging. To my knowledge, it was the first such event to specifically target minority students.

I want to thank the Family Medicine Interest Group for coordinating the event; MSSC physicians, medical students and simulation center staff for volunteering to be there; KUSM-W for hosting the event; and the Wichita School District for promoting it to their students.

“Diversity begins with you” means that no matter who you are, being inclusive will make a difference in the long run, both professionally and morally.