Lancaster Physician Fall 2020 - 26

L A N C A S T E R M E D I C A L S O C I E T Y.O R G

Healthy Communities

In my practice, I am often met with a
surprised look. For many, I am the first Black
doctor they have had. For some, I am the first
doctor they have had who speaks Spanish.
The percentage of physicians in the U.S.
who are Black has not changed much in over
40 years-it is around 5 percent. Through
Patients R Waiting, I want to change that.
Many industries recognize that diversity adds
value. In medicine it saves lives. More and
more studies are showing that Black patients
have better outcomes, increased adherence to
primary care recommendations, and better
satisfaction when they receive care from Black
physicians. Health disparities, differences in
outcomes for different populations, have
become part of the national discourse through
COVID-19.

Fast forward 10 years, and here I am. I
am a full-time ObGyn physician with Penn
Medicine Lancaster General Health Physicians
Family & Maternity Medicine, a hospital
employed practice of Penn Medicine Lancaster
General Health. I am also the founder of
Patients R Waiting, a nonprofit organization
dedicated to eliminating health disparities by
increasing diversity in medicine. We have
three areas of focus:
1)Increase the pipeline of minority
clinicians.
2) Make the pipeline less leaky by
supporting students along their
educational journeys.
3) Support minority clinicians in
practice, so they are better able to
support those coming behind them. 

"Patients R Waiting" started as a slogan.
I would meet undergraduate students who
knew they wanted to become physicians.
We would sit and talk about their plans and
their experiences and things wouldn't add up.
The Black and Latino students I met would
have great resumes but low confidence. I was
shocked. These students were rock stars! They
did more in undergrad than I ever did. In
addition to their rigorous academic coursework, these students were leaders on campus,
running numerous student organizations,
spearheading initiatives, serving on advisory
councils for the President's office, and more.
But they categorically expressed doubt, fear,
and feelings of inadequacy. I didn't understand
why. I'd say time and time again, "What do
you mean you'll take a gap year? You don't
have time for that! Patients are waiting for
you. Someone's mother or sister or son is
waiting for you to be their doctor. They are
waiting for you to care for them. You don't
have the luxury of self-doubt."

LANCASTER

26

PHYSICIAN

Patients R Waiting has grown from a
motivating statement to a 501c3 organization.
This summer, we launched a health equity
book club, participated in a STEM camp for
6th-8th graders, launched three community
projects, and had a team of 18 interns from
four different colleges. Increasing the pipeline
of minority clinicians must start early with
exposure to health fields and health professionals. Supporting these students' journeys
is imperative. Not only do we build a strong
workforce, with preparation for life sustaining
jobs and careers, but also these future clinicians
can fill gaps in high need areas. Our 4th Annual Diversity in Medicine Conference is one
event that draws students from throughout
the region to connect with our organization
and become part of our community. On
September 26, over 200 undergraduate and
medical students gathered online for a keynote speaker, panel discussions, a graduate
program recruitment fair, and more. Over
30 presenters, Black and Latino physicians,
mental health providers, researchers, public
health officials, dentists, and other allied
health professionals shared their experiences.
Beyond the conference, minority students
are staying connected with each other and
with mentors. Patients R Waiting is leading
the charge of creating the diverse health care
workforce that Lancaster needs.



Lancaster Physician Fall 2020

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