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Black Men in White Coats inspiring youth

Community Health Network hosted its 2nd annual Black Men in White Coats Youth Summit at Lawrence Central High School Oct. 28.

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Black Men in White Coats aim to inspire young people to consider health care professions through mentoring and activities. It’s a day-long program including speakers, breakout sessions and activities for kids and teens.  

The organization was founded in 2013 in response to the decreasing number of Black men applying to medical school.  

RELATED: Black doctor defies the odds and creates more representation in medicine

The organization works closely with medical schools, high schools and physicians to hold youth summits in major cities across the country.  

“I always loved math and science. I had my older brother who suffered a severe traumatic brain injury when I was younger, and that kind of exposed me to being in and out of hospitals a lot growing up. That sparked my interest in medicine,” said Dr. Tony McHerron, practice medical director for pediatrics at Community Hospital Anderson and first-generation college graduate. 

Black Men in White Coats
Raquel Marsh and her 13-year-old son Eli enjoy the photobooth at the 2nd annual Black Men in White Coats youth summit. (Photo/Jade Jackson)

“I’ve attended predominantly white institutions. There’s been times where there’s been inherent bias and microaggressions. I had to overcome people not believing, just looking at my skin color, that I was the actual physician,” said McHerron.  

During the panel discussion, he shared with students that others’ doubts motivated him to continue on his chosen path. He proved he deserved to be in spaces where he could help people. 

Community Health Network partnership

Throughout the day, students participated in hands-on activities, simulations and conversations with Black male medical professionals. 

Professionals from Community Health Network also contributed to the program held at Lawrence Central High School. 

Eli, dressed in a white coat, enjoyed taking photos with his mother, Raquel Marsh, inside the photobooth at the event.  

Black Men in White Coats
Black Men in White Coats was founded in 2013 in response to a report that highlighted the decreasing number of Black men applying to medical school. (Photo/Jade Jackson)

“I was thinking about going into dentistry,” said 13-year-old Eli, who currently has braces. “I’d like to see people be happy with their smiles and not feel upset about how they look.”  

His mother is excited to expose her son to medical professions.  

“It helps influence and motivate them seeing people that look like me and my son. I feel like sometimes everything we see is negative, especially when it comes to our own people,” said Marsh.  

“So, seeing them in a positive light, and what they give to this community, and how they look out for our kids, it’s great for them to be pushed to be the best they can be.”   

Marsh appreciates the additional support she feels events like Black Men in White Coats provide, as they allow her to show her son what he can attain. 

McHerron said these types of events are important for the next generation.  

“It’s extremely important to reach back and then show others early on that the whole world ahead of them can come with endless possibilities,” said McHerron.  

Contact staff writer Jade Jackson at (317) 762-7853 or by email JadeJ@IndyRecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @IAMJADEJACKSON. 

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