Columbus, OH,
21:45 PM

NBC4: Made for Medicine

Program Brings Diverse Students to Medicine

If you are a Black middle school student in Columbus, Ohio there are hopes and dreams, like many kids across the country.  However, if one of those dreams is to be a doctor, the national statistics say, forget about it - 5 percent Black doctors, about 2 percent women. 

"It was important for me to start thinking about the next generation,” Laura Espy-Bell, MD, OhioHealth emergency physician said to NBC4. “The pipeline and what medicine looks like moving forward in the future.” 

If you walk into OhioHealth emergency physician, Dr. Laura Espy-Bell’s Made for Medicine program, you’ll find dozens of Black kids with white coats, being addressed by OhioHealth physicians and staff as Dr. Brown, Dr. Johnson, and Dr. Smith.  “If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me.”  That’s the mantra for these kids, all dreaming big of turning those numbers around.  

"“We teach them what we know,” Espy-Bell said. “So all of our faculty members are Black, 11 including myself, and that was intentional because, for me, it’s important for these kids to be able to see themselves in us.”

At OhioHealth, it’s more than numbers, it’s embracing a cardinal value of diversity and inclusion.  It’s also helping start a pipeline of local talent, promising to be with these kids into their high school years, and beyond. 

“Originally, I wanted to be a fashion designer, but God really spoke to me and said, ‘I need you to help people,’ and this is what He led me to,” said eighth grader Myanna Brown, 14, who has been with the program since it began and has her sights set on being a dermatologist.  “It inspires me because I have mentors that I also help at my school, so I really want to be an example to them so they can say, ‘Oh, she did it, so so can I,’” she said.

That's exactly what Dr. Espy-Bell hoped for when she started this program 2 years ago.

“To see them just thrive and be engaged, and be excited about medicine is just overwhelmingly amazing,” she said. “It’s just a purpose that I feel like we’re all fulfilling.”

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