AU med students discuss the need for diversity in healthcare

Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 6:01 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Matchday has come and gone, and now the next major step for doctors and nurses is to find a job in the healthcare field.

Augusta University is hoping that its students will pick a job in our own community, or at least in Georgia.

One of the biggest needs is more diversity in the field. We spoke to med students at AU who want to help change the culture.

Across Georgia, the goal has been to fill a massive gap in healthcare. Data shows there’s only a small percentage of minorities and people of color in the healthcare field.

“There’s a problem that not only are there not enough Black physicians in medicine, but it’s hard to retain Black med students,” said K’mani Boyden, a first-year medical student.

Boyden always knew he wanted to practice medicine, so he could help change the culture in our area.

“Being a young Black pre-med it was impactful to see Black doctors, so having us here is like a sucking force for young Black men,” he said.

Despite making up 13 percent of the U.S. population, people of color make up 4 percent of physicians and less than 7 percent are recent med school graduates, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Tylin Siweuke, medical student said: “It’s such an important field with minorities.”

The proportion of black men in medical schools has dropped over the last 40 years until last year. Black men applying to medical schools went up a record-setting 17 percent in 2021.

Reggie Benson, second-year medical student said: “Being a minority, I understand there is that need. It means the most to me that I can give back to the community.”

Data shows that students who come from a particular background will generally serve the same background.

“A lot of times you see when they speak to minority providers or minority students, they’re able to open up more, and the trust is a little bit greater,” he said.

Georgia’s population is about 32 percent African American. AU says they want 25 to 30 percent African American students at MCG to mirror the people they serve.

Students with the 100 Black Men of Augusta are always working to get more people of color in the healthcare field. AU has programs to reach students in high school to get them interested.

Siweuke said: “It’s something that I’m not only doing to prove to myself, but to prove to the generation after me that it’s very possible. It’s difficult, but it’s not impossible.”

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