Dr. Russell Ledet is the only Black man to match into a triple residency program anywhere in the United States in 2022. He’s also the first Black man to enter the program at IU and will be training over the next 5 years in pediatrics, adult psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry.
He wants to help children in the communities he’s come from with their mental health.
“Accessibility to mental health services is a problem right now because we don’t have that many child and adolescent psychologists in the state of Indiana,” said Dr. Ledet.
From hospital security guard to triple residency, he’s defied the odds, but he wants other people that look like him to also be a part of medicine.
“I don’t want to be the only. The goal is to make sure that I’m not the only one, but that’s easier said than done. We’re fighting against serious issues in terms of why it’s so hard to diversify,” said Dr. Ledet.
There’s a lot of factors that limit minorities from becoming physicians.
“How much do you think it costs to apply for medical school? Try $5,000 to $10,000. So, think about it. If you come from a marginalized community and after you just finished spending all of this money on college and have to come off five racks or ten racks, you’d be like ‘What?!’” said Dr. Ledet.
Medical students can expect to go into a quarter of a million dollars in debt.
With only the hope and promise that one could get into residency to become a doctor, it’s easy to give up attending medical school.
That’s why Dr. Ledet co-founded 15 White Coats.
The nonprofit’s mission is to develop scholarships, facilitate access to culturally relevant literature and inspire and mentor the youth for tomorrow.
They’ve raised over millions of dollars to give to minority students wanting to attend medical school.
The money supports them throughout their schooling too.
“The visual representation matters too. It’s not just the fact that I have a white coat. It’s not the fact that I have eight letters behind my name. It’s how I show up,” said Dr. Ledet.
Purposefully showing that a Black man from Louisiana with an accent and locs in his hair can be a doctor.
His journey has come with obstacles and there’s been plenty of situations where people have doubted his abilities, but he’s putting his energy into progress.
Contact senior staff writer Jade Jackson at 317-607-5792. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @IAMJADEJACKSON