Black Americans make up more than 13% of the U.S. population, yet only 5% of physicians are black.
As institutions everywhere confront the impacts of racism and inequity in their systems, medicine is not immune. Lack of access to health care isn't just a problem for Black patients, who continue to face economic, social and cultural barriers. The gaps are evident in the profession itself. Black physicians remain in a disproportionately small minority. And many African American doctors say that's because medical training itself alienates them, perpetuating those gaps which, in turn, affects the care patients receive.
Matt Smith, MD, an assistant professor of otolaryngology at UC and a pediatric otolaryngologist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, witnessed racial microaggressions directed toward a fellow resident-in-training in an out-of-state institution, which led to him confronting leadership.
Now, Smith is an outspoken advocate for social justice with the medical students he supervises in his role at UC. He's also starting a mentor program for minority schoolchildren, hoping to get them into medicine.
"Until there are changes made in the pipeline, all you're going to get is what you put into the system," he says.
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