15 March 2010

The Cuban Medical Scholarship Program & You

I pursued a career in medicine because of the inspiration and support of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and his followers who encouraged me. I wanted to be available to work in Muhammad's Hospital. Once in medical school - where I met for the first time a black doctor - Dr Edward Jackson- I looked around and saw how few of us there were. Overall, when I graduated in 1975, there were fewer black doctors in practice then there were in 1900! And fewer black medical schools!
How could we ever as a people hope to close the health care gap without the men and women to do so? There are more black doctors who retire each year, than are replaced by new graduates coming in. That's why, to me, the greatest gift ever bestowed upon us as a people is the Cuban Medical Scholarship Program: 500 medical school scholarships! Do the math - a medical degree in America would cost you about $250,000 or more- So 500 scholarships is worth an astounding $125,000,000! But, unfortunately, we are not taking advantage of this great opportunity. Very few apply each year for these free scholarships. If you know anyone who is interested have them contact :
Cuban Scholarship Program
c/o Muhammad University of Islam
7351 South Stony Island Avenue
Chicago, IL 60649-3106
(773) 643-0700


Few young blacks pursue medicine
By Kym Klass

To Jefferson Underwood III, being one of the 4.4 percent of African-American doctors in the United States means there is a long way to go.
The Montgomery physician said this is the first generation of doctors not actively encouraging people to follow in their footsteps.
"It's because of all the problems that come with it," he said. "Malpractice, decreasing reimbursement -- those who tend to get around those issues certainly are not coming back to Montgomery."
African-Americans currently make up nearly 13 percent of the U.S. population but only 4.4 percent of all U.S. physicians and surgeons. They are considered an underrepresented minority (URM) in medicine, according to the Journal of the National Medical Association.
While African-Americans have many major advances in some fields during the past decades, the proportion of black physicians in the United States has changed little.
Despite affirmative action programs instituted by medical schools in the 1960s and 1970s, African-Americans comprised only 3.1 percent of all U.S. physicians in 1980.
Because affirmative action alone was unsuccessful in achieving diversity goals, in 1990 the Association of American Medical Colleges launched Project 3000 by 2000, an initiative to increase the number of these underrepresented minorities in medicine.
But instead of the hoped for 3,000, there were only about 1,700 underrepresented minorities in U.S. medical schools in 2000. The numbers peaked in 1994, but have since stagnated.
Cynthia Barginere, chief nursing officer and chief operating officer at Baptist Medical Center South, said the lack of African-American physicians is a national issue, an issue that has focused on schools and the lack of strong math and science programs.
"If you're going into these programs, it's a fundamental expectation," she said. "Globally, you don't see the strength of science and math. If there would be specific programs targeted toward science and math for African-American students, then that would help."
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Barginere said what the medical field is seeing are more foreign students, and more females.
"I don't know that we are seeing a lot more African Americans," she said.
From 2004 Census statistics of the U.S. Labor Department and of the American Medical Association, there are approximately 885,000 (884,974) doctors in the U.S. This represents about .29 percent of the population, or one-third of 1 percent. There is roughly one doctor to 300 people in the U.S.
Races other than Caucasians are significantly underrepresented. Caucasians represent 47.8 percent of all physicians. Black doctors only make up 2.3 percent, and Hispanic doctors about 3.2 percent. The largest minority percentage is made up of Asians, at 8.3 percent of all doctors.
"In terms of managed care, this is the first generation of doctors which is not actively encouraging people in their footsteps," Underwood said. "People don't want to come to Montgomery not because of the past, but because of current problems.
"We're in an under-served area, but are having a hard time recruiting people to come to this area."
Underwood said a lot of people don't have what he had at home -- positive role models. His father was a physician. His mother had a master's degree, and his brother is a physician.
"Most African Americans are not privy to such role models in their lives," he said. "Also, we have to look at paying for medical school. We're considered public servants. Firemen don't have to pay to learn to be a fireman, policemen don't ... But I have to pay to learn how to be a doctor."
At the end of the day, if African Americans don't see a doctor role model, "you won't know how to be one," Barginere said.
That's one reason Underwood didn't pursue some of his childhood dreams -- he wanted to be an astronaut, and a pilot, but didn't know any black astronauts or pilots.
"I was basically told, consciously and subconsciously, that I could not be one, because I didn't see one," he said. "I realized the importance of positive role models.
"I came from an educated background. I saw the positive benefits of what a good education could bring."
However, he said if the resources aren't there to pursue an education in medicine, those wanting to become doctors may find themselves with few options. Underwood finished four years of undergraduate work, four years of graduate school, a year internship and three years of residency -- where he finally got paid enough "to get by."
Barginere said Baptist has a diverse leadership team. At Baptist South, she said, "we are seeing a lot more African Americans coming into the leadership positions, but I think it is because we are very deliberate and work on looking like the public we serve.
"We look for minority talent."

2 comments:

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