By Shilpa Kumar

“You’re the first Black surgeon I’ve seen!” was the first thing a student said to a panelist during a Q&A session at the most recent Doctor for a Day. A simple statement was a reminder of the large impression representation can make.

Doctor for a Day aims to increase diversity in medicine by encouraging underrepresented minority students in middle and high school to explore the possibility of entering healthcare. Through hands-on activities, workshops, and conversations with physicians from similar backgrounds, students leave with a better idea of medicine and their potential journey of becoming a healthcare provider.

There are many reasons for why increasing diversity in medicine is important, from helping patients feel more comfortable to seek out care, to improving healthcare outcomes for some of the most marginalized populations. Doctor for a Day aims to help diversify medicine by increasing young minority students’ exposure to medicine. By talking to physicians that look like them, as well as through exploration of various organ systems, pathology specimens, and workshops (among other things!), students can be encouraged to pursue a path that they might not have thought possible for them. Students that previously thought that entering medicine was not an option for them, or students that didn’t have the exposure to information about the medical field, might leave Doctor for a Day with inspiration to explore a new career interest.

For the student that had never seen a Black surgeon before attending Doctor for a Day, the representation she saw, or getting to practice intubating a mannequin, might have cultivated a new interest in potentially becoming a physician. Whether or not she, or any other students there that day, decide to pursue medicine in the future, Doctor for a Day helped them realize that it is definitely possible to do so.

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