Intermountain event seeks to inspire Black students to consider careers in medicine

Alta View Hospital in Sandy is pictured on Friday, Feb. 19, 2021.

Alta View Hospital in Sandy is pictured on Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News )



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SANDY — Black high school seniors and college students have the opportunity to learn about careers in medicine in an upcoming mentorship event.

The first ever Medicine Immersion Day — hosted by Intermountain Healthcare and Black Physicians of Utah — is a much-needed event based on data available about the Utah medical field's diversity.

In Utah, only 0.6% of practicing physicians are Black, according to a report from the Association of American Medical Colleges. That's the second lowest percentage across all 50 states (the median was 3.8%). Only Wyoming, which had fewer than 10 Black physicians in 2020, was ranked lower.

"I strongly believe in the saying 'If you can see it, you can be it,'" said Richard Ferguson, founder of Black Physicians of Utah and chief medical officer for Health Choice Utah. "Mentorship by Black and allied providers gives guidance and opportunities to groups, like African-Americans in Utah, who may be overlooked for opportunities in medicine. I would not be where I am today if it were not for the mentors that fostered my interests in science and medicine at an early age."

The Medicine Immersion Day will take place at Alta View Hospital in Sandy from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24. It will include workshops and panels to "fully immerse the students into a day in the life of a physician" and "allow them to better understand the experiences of Black physicians who followed their paths into medical careers," according to a press release.

Alta View Hospital administrator Scott Roberson said the hospital is proud to partner with Black Physicians of Utah in the event.

"Our hope is that this Immersive Medicine Day will inspire young Black students across the state to consider careers in medicine," Roberson said. "Since education and vocation are such important social determinants of health, inspiring Black youth to consider a career in medicine will go a long way toward fulfilling our mission of helping people live the healthiest lives possible."

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Sydnee Gonzalez is a multicultural reporter for KSL.com covering the diversity of Utah's people and communities. Se habla español. You can find Sydnee at @sydnee_gonzalez on Twitter.

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