(CLEVELAND, Ohio)—Students, parents, teachers, and education leaders attended Cleveland’s inaugural Black Men in White Coats (BMWC) Youth Summit,
hosted by Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 21-22, at Case Western Reserve’s Tinkham Veale University Center.
The event was an engaging and powerful time of mentorship, networking, and exposure to the medical profession intended to inspire an estimated 250 youth to consider careers in health care. BMWC Youth Summit brings students (non-gender specific) in grades 3 through 12, undergraduate students, and those supporting them, together with health care leaders from across Northeast Ohio.
“As we continue to experience the disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is extremely important for young Black and Brown youth in our communities to be able to realize their full potential and to be inspired by people who share a cultural connection,” said Blanton Tolbert, PhD, vice dean of diversity, equity and inclusive excellence at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. “The foundation of Black Men in White Coats is to instill within these youth a sense that they, too, can become physicians or health professionals by bringing role models within their orbits. I am honored that our institutions have partnered to host the BMWC Youth Summit for the City of Cleveland.”
The BMWC initiative was founded in 2013 by Dr. Dale Okorodudu in response to an Association of American Medical Colleges report highlighting the decreasing number of Black male applicants in medical school.
“Nationally, we are at a pivotal moment in health care as our workforces have been crippled in this post-pandemic era,” said Celina Cunanan, MSN, APRN-CNM, FACNM, chief diversity, equity, and belonging officer at University Hospitals. “For Cleveland, health care is our number-one industry, yet our clinician workforces don’t reflect the rich diversity of our communities that we serve. Thus, as health care leaders, educators, and employers, our efforts must be intentional to create pipelines for Black and Brown youth that will spark their interest in health care at an early age, and inspire them to consider careers as nurses, doctors, scientists, and advanced practice providers. UH is incredibly proud to partner with our friends at Case (Western Reserve) School of Medicine to bring the Black Men in White Coats Youth Summit to Cleveland for the very first time.”
The summit's agenda included opening remarks by Cleveland Health Director David Margolius, MD, who was joined by Cliff A. Megerian, MD, FACS, chief executive officer of University Hospitals.
Edward M. Barksdale Jr., MD, surgeon in chief at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, delivered the keynote, “Making Opportunity of Adversity.”
“Building a Path Towards a Successful Career in Medicine and Health Care,” was moderated by Kendalle Cobb, MD, associate chief of staff at Cleveland Clinic. Gregory Hall, MD, medical director of the UH Cutler Center for Men, moderated “How to Raise a Doctor.” The day also included hands-on activities, informative sessions, and networking.
The weekend kicked off with a private movie screening of the “Black Men in White Coats” documentary that explores why only 5% of American doctors are Black men and what that means for society. The screening was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Monica Yepes-Rios, MD, assistant dean for diversity, equity and inclusion for Students at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine.
Download full release