UMMC recruits Choctaw students to help spread diversity in health care

ByAlyson R. Briggs

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Choctaw Central High School Visit Day at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) led to opportunities to recruit more Native Americans to health care careers.

The School of Medicine arranged the visit, with funding from a multi-million dollar federal grant, IMPACT the RACE Rural Track Program, created to help endow rural areas with more primary care doctors; but the event wasn’t limited to the physicians’ training ground.

Besides the medical school, the schools of dentistry, health related professions and nursing, whose students met with the guests during lunch, were able to do their own recruiting.

“We need an entire health care team to take care of folks. So everything I say in this presentation has a whole lot of selfishness. Who’s going to be taking care of me when I’m 80 years old,” said Dr. Loretta Jackson-Williams, professor of emergency medicine and vice dean for medical education

This is important because improved health care occurs when patients and those who treat them have similar backgrounds in race, ethnicity and language. And students with backgrounds which are underrepresented in medicine are more likely to be drawn to underserved communities when they begin their careers.

For a few hours on the UMMC campus, they saw, did and heard plenty. Beyond the intubation lesson they learned CPR, accompanied by the song, “Stayin’ Alive.”

They discovered what it takes to train as a dentist, or to get on the dental hygiene track, and, during an oral cancer screening session, how to check each other for swollen lymph nodes.

The students also listened to eloquent presentations from UMMC students, which summed up  up a SHRP-related career this way: “Everything you do, you’re helping someone else.”


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