A Carrollton doctor has made it his mission to help shape the next generation of medical professionals.
And there was something he wanted to focus that mission on: Putting African American men in white coats. As its name suggests, "Black Men in White Coats," is a mentorship program that aims to increase the number of black men in the field of medicine.
The program was founded six years ago by Dr. Dale Okorodudu, a pulmonary and critical care physician practicing at the Dallas VA Medical Center. It has touched the lives of both men and women.
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"Once we bring them into our system, we can mentor them, we can give them resources, we can provide them with support," he said. "If we can do those three things, they can be successful."
A 2013 report highlighting the decreasing number of black men in medicine was eye-opening for Okorodudu. He noticed the lack of diversity in his own practice and wanted to do something about it.
"The reason we focus specifically on black men in white coats, is because black men were the only core, the only group that was actually going down in terms of the number of people applying to medical school," Okorodudu explained.
His program has partnered with medical schools across the country to produce short documentary videos, which bring awareness to the issue that Okorodudu says not only affects the black male population, but the nation as a whole.
"Where we’re at right now compared to where we started is amazing," Okorodudu said. "We started this back in 2013, and just making little YouTube videos here and there, trying to bring awareness to the problem."
Now, Okorodudu says he wants to take "Black Men in White Coats" to the next level with more focused mentoring, more youth summits across the country and the release of a full, feature-length documentary.
"And, the purpose of that documentary is to inspire the youth, provide hope, ask the question of, 'why are there so few black men pursuing their careers in medicine?' and answer that question," Okorodudu said. "That’s going to impact lives for generations to come. We want everybody to rise."
ONLINE: You can follow Okorodudu's journey and get involved in his mission by visiting his website.