Medical Internship Week kicked off in NYC last week and included a group of young Black aspiring doctors looking to break the lack of diversity in the medical field.
There was 45 Black youth included in the program for aspiring doctors, nurses, and surgeons, NY Daily News reports. The group of aspiring medical professionals with ages from eight to 18 enjoyed five days of shadowing surgeons and watching medical procedures to get firsthand experience ahead of pursuing careers in the field.
“I like to see Black doctors,” said sixth-grader Kayne McKnight. “When I go to the dentist and the doctors, I don’t really see Black doctors. It’s mostly white doctors.”
Dr. Anthony Watkins, a transplant surgeon at NYU Langone, is one of the creators of the program and expressed his hope to break the racial disparities he has seen get worse over the decades. Watkins noted how there were more Black men in medical school in the 1970s than there are in recent years. Through Medical Internship Week, Watkins aims to break the barriers.
“Knowing that ‘Oh, someone who looks like me can do it’ can instill that confidence,” Watkins said. “That’s really a critical component. The ultimate goal is … to spark that interest, and hopefully tackle this problem, and address diversity.”
The program is the byproduct of a $25,000 grant from the LiveOnNY Foundation and a web series the foundation hosted last September to address the disparities people of color face when in need of organ donation and transplantation care.
13-year-old Aaron Vann credited the program for motivating him to pursue a career in medicine.
“This kind of solidified it, to be honest,” Vann said. “When I saw what they did, what they go through on a daily basis, that like sparked me to become a doctor or a become a nurse or work in a hospital.”
Aaron Vann, 13, gets his white coat from NYU transplant surgeon Dr. Anthony Watkins and NY Presbyterian nurses Monica Nelson-Kone, Veronica Roye and Nicole Golden. (Erskine Isaac / ivisionphoto.com)