Yes, I started a foundation to help other students while still going through the rigorous process myself.
I have first-hand experience in what it means to not know what I should be doing. I just knew I wanted to be a doctor! But, how? I have no physicians, researchers, healthcare administration, or scientists in my family. I traveled the road of healthcare taking chances and wishing upon a star.
I just knew I wanted to be a doctor! But, how?
The desire came from somewhere. God? A movie? How many minority children are exposed or even think they have a chance of doing anything in the healthcare field?
My experience really shaped the existence of this foundation. Why do minorities have to apply to med school, or nursing school, or pharmacy school, or dental school, or graduate school alone? Where are those who traveled before us? Can there be a space where we can have our questions answered or just communicate with others on the same track?
This foundation is to serve as a community for minority students and professionals. A community that can grow and offers many resources to increase minorities in the various fields of healthcare. There's less than 10 percent of minorities in healthcare. Who does that include? African Americans, Hispanics/Latinx, and Native Americans.
Why representation matters?
Black Americans do not trust the healthcare system. We know this from the #Tuskegee study and since then, it has been almost impossible to find Black Americans involved in research studies. Do you blame them? But, when it comes to vaccinations or treatments, there aren't many clinical trials to know if it is safe for Black Americans. Would Black Americans feel more comfortable if there was a Black scientist leading the trial? Hispanic and Latinx have a high language barrier. What better way to close the gap in the disparities for Hispanics than to have a Hispanic/Latinx provider to help understand the diagnosis or treatment plan? This is why representation matters! People feel more comfortable when they know or see someone that looks like them.
How many minority children are exposed or even think they have a chance of doing anything in the healthcare field?
Health disparities and life expectancy
Many health disparities exist in underserved communities for many reasons. Perhaps it's the lack of resources or the lack of trust. Many minorities have preventable chronic illnesses or a shortened life span due to health disparities. Your life expectancy can literally be determined by your zip code. But, how can we get more minorities to their annual check-ups? How can we make sure they truly benefit from having access to healthcare? How can we remove the stigma of mental health checks or therapy? How can we treat our own people without the assumption of them just wanting more prescription drugs? All of this is tied to having minority healthcare professionals. We need more in practice and more to create policy.
Why is this foundation so important?
The mission of this foundation is to flood the healthcare pipeline with minorities. There is no way that the minority healthcare professional percentage is less than half of the overall minority population in this country. Providing mentorship, scholarships, study resources, community, peer-tutoring are all keys to success. People can gather strength, confidence, and resilience when their dreams seem impossible.
This foundation is essential and I'm patient enough to see it grow to help many, many minority students, and help to make a positive impact in healthcare. It is all about exposing more underserved communities and providing them with mentorship, tutoring, and scholarships for school. Even while going through the process myself, I can benefit from others and we can learn from each other!