41%. There is the real possibility, an advertised publicized promise, that a rich white man may reduce my student loan burden by 41%, and this will not even touch the vastness of his wealth.
At its core, medicine is about empathy. As a future physician, my job will be to take care of people. They teach us at my medical school to treat your patients like a family member. Essentially, they are trying to remind us that our patients are people, not a disease or a group of symptoms, so that we can fully treat them with care and compassion.
I wonder about other medical schools.
I go to an HBCU. I thank God for that fact often. Sometimes I begrudge it too, but more for societal reasons than educational experiences. Our school was founded from the gift of a different white man. Life’s ironies abound. We don’t have the same resources as the rich predominantly white medical school ten minutes down the street. But when I sat in lecture and suffered through Nephrology, I looked around and saw people like me. I looked at my professor and saw a man that could favor one of my uncles. I didn’t worry about being judged for my Blackness, where I came from, or who my family is.
I often wonder if they stress compassion, empathy, and just basic human decency at predominantly white medical schools. As an HBCU, our patient population is mostly disadvantaged peoples. Our hospital is the safety net hospital. Everyday our work is about caring for those whom society has ignored, undervalued, or downright betrayed. Compassion and empathy are baked into our curriculum, into our classes, into all of our education. I don’t know if the same is true elsewhere.
Our country has a humanity crisis. I don’t know how to make racists care about non-whites. I don’t know how to make sexists respect the wisdom of non-males. I don’t know how we make our country better when the seeds of hate and discrimination are from where the very roots of our country sprung.
I know that Black mothers are less likely to die in childbirth if their Obstetrician is Black. I know that Black children are less likely to die in their first days of life if their Pediatrician is Black. I know Black men are more likely to receive vital routine screenings for life threatening illnesses if their Internist is Black. But Black doctors are only 5% of the physician population is this country, despite Black people being 12% of the general population overall.
I don’t know how to fix all of these problems.
But I do know a rich white man just made a lot of lives better for more future Black doctors. And, hopefully, we will make the lives of our future Black patients better, too. And maybe, just maybe, this is a good start.
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