MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Hennepin Healthcare is taking steps to inspire the next generation of African American doctors. It's all part of an effort to encourage youth in communities of color to pursue careers in the health care field.
In December of last year, Hennepin Healthcare held its first Black Men with Stethoscopes Youth Summit. The program works to encourage young Black men to explore careers in health care.
"The most important reason why we're focusing on children at a young age is that we have to provide opportunities for our young Black and Brown kids to see themselves in the field of medicine," says Dr. Nneka Sederstrom, the chief health equity officer at Hennepin Healthcare.
Black physicians are drastically underrepresented in medicine. According to a study by the Association of American Medical Colleges, in 2018 only 5% of the nation's doctors identified as Black.
"We need to change that. We need to change that mostly because we know science has shown us, and data has shown us, that patients have better outcomes when they receive care by clinicians who look like them," says Dr. Sederstrom.
During the summit, students are getting hands-on hospital experience and connecting with physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. Dr. Sederstrom says it's important to show the youth what's possible.
"If you don't know what you can be, then you're not going to dream it. If you can't see what you can be, then you're not going to be it. So we need to provide spaces where young children can see themselves in those roles," says Sederstrom.
On Saturday, Hennepin Healthcare will host its first Black Women with Stethoscopes Youth Summit. The event is full, however, the program is ongoing and will eventually focus on the American Indian and Indigenous populations, Hispanic and Asian populations, and the LGBTQ communities.
More information on this program is available here.