Skip to main content
Image: [image credit]
Photo 19261384 © Gerry Boughan |

Inspiring the Next Generation of Diverse Healthcare Leaders

Hundreds of students, parents, educators, healthcare professionals and community leaders from across Southern California turned out at the second annual Black Men in White Coats Youth Summit. The event, hosted by Cedars-Sinai at the Los Angeles Convention Center, was an opportunity for students of color to learn about careers in healthcare.

“I think as we’re looking at the lack of representation in healthcare, having events where we can start to expose students to what is happening in the field of medicine—have them feel it, touch it, see people who look like them and maybe aspire to—that really makes a difference,” said Nicole Mitchell, Cedars-Sinai’s chief diversity and inclusion officer. “For me, it’s all about exposing the next generation of healthcare heroes to what’s out there.”

Throughout the day, students visited interactive stations to learn about various aspects of clinical care, including respiratory therapy, laparoscopic surgery, sports medicine, artificial intelligence technology, imaging, and emergency care.

“I’m not really sure what I want to do yet, but I know I want to do something with medicine,” said 13-year-old Isaiah Wise.

Isaiah’s dad, Michael Wise, said, “I think it’s very important for the youth in our community to see people who look like them in these positions, so they can bring that back to the community and grow in the community. Events like this are great because it really takes a village.”

Attendees heard from keynote speaker Dale Okorodudu, MD, who founded Black Men in White Coats in 2013 to encourage students from diverse backgrounds to pursue careers in medicine.

The youth summits are held in major U.S. cities in partnership with medical schools and health institutions. At the Los Angeles event, representatives from Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science and were on-site to share career insights to hopeful medical students. 

Among those enjoying what the summit had to offer was 16-year-old Kalyssa Ferdinand, who hopes to be a doctor one day, and her mother, Koralyn Ferdinand.

“We’re here to give her experience about her future—her future of going to medical school and one day getting that white coat,” Koralyn Ferdinand said.