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"Black Men in White Coats" program coming to Tulsa

Posted at 4:49 PM, Mar 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-29 12:43:44-04

TULSA, Okla. — A national program designed to recruit more Black men to the field of medicine is coming to Tulsa.

The goal of the program is to increase minority representation, particularly among doctors.

Dr. Chris McNeil is an Emergency Medicine Resident at OSU Medical Center (OSUMC). He said the road to becoming a doctor involved a lot of long hours and hard work, but he didn't do it alone.

“There was multiple things that essentially led to where I am today, the biggest one is being mentors,” Dr. McNeil said.

One of those mentors, his colleague, Dr. Yakiji Bailey.

“I want the kids today to see that you know, 'hey, this guy is a regular guy, he likes sports, he likes fishing. You know, he does the same things that I do, yet he could move on and do something that you know…may have not thought was possible a day ago,'” Dr. Yakiji Bailey, professor of Emergency Medicine at OSUMC said.

They met at a "Black Men in White Coats" National Conference.

“The sole purpose of it was to get more minorities into the medical field, specifically, more Black males because those were the group that was most underrepresented,” Dr. McNeil said.

Since meeting, both doctors started working together with physicians nationwide and across Tulsa to bring a mini version of that summit to Tulsa.

“And we think about the health of Oklahoma, how could that change if we were to apply some of the same recruiting tactics, we use in football, which is huge here, to medicine…which needs to be huge here,” Dr. McNeil said.

Dr. McNeil said having two medical schools in Tulsa allows the program to provide students with unique mentoring experiences that allow them to apply what they learn in the classroom to real-life, hands-on experiences.

“Positive experiences, bringing in mentors, allowing kids to be able to see... this is what we do and these are the skills that not only pay bills, but they’re fun,” Dr. McNeil said.

Tuesday, the mini Black Men in White Coats summit will take place at Union High School.

“For a lot of the public schools you hear STEM a lot, science, technology, engineering and mathematics, but the extra 'M' is silent, there’s no medicine,” Dr. McNeil said.

Students from all across Oklahoma, grades 8-12 will hear from professionals in the fields about what it takes to become a doctor.

“It’s okay to be smart, it’s okay to have these ambitions of, how do I take care of people based off of what I read and what I understood in science and making that be essentially our superpower,” Dr. McNeil said.

Dr. McNeil said students look up to Black men in athletics, now it's time to see them in the medical field too.

“There’s already a LeBron, you know, but there are plenty of doctor coats to be filled,” Dr. McNeil said.

Dr. McNeil said they hope to expand the program to all 27 school districts in Tulsa.

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