Black Physicians of Utah host Medicine Immersion Day

Sep 24, 2022, 5:48 PM | Updated: Sep 27, 2022, 1:33 pm

SANDY, Utah — Intermountain Healthcare has always been proud of all the firsts in medicine it has accomplished through the years, and what happened at Alta View Hospital in Sandy on Saturday is a first that was long overdue.

For the very first time, the group Black Physicians of Utah held what they’re calling a Medicine Immersion Day.

The idea is to get Black high school seniors and college students to perhaps consider medicine as a career.

“Every single one of us here today had that spark,” said Dr. Alice Akunyili, MD, who helped form Black Physicians of Utah. “This is an opportunity for them to see someone that looks like them as a physician. And maybe have that thought that says, oh, I can do that, too.”

Students were brought into different rooms at Alta View Hospital, such as an operating room and labor and delivery, to talk to doctors and nurses.

The different workshops allowed students to see what they do for a living and ask questions about the profession from physicians who look like them.

It’s no secret that Utah’s population is predominantly white.

According to a report from the Association of American Medical Colleges, less than 1% of practicing physicians in Utah are Black. That’s the second lowest state by percentage, just above Wyoming.

However, with the growth Utah is experiencing, it’s becoming a more diverse state.

Dr. Richard Ferguson, who is the President of the Black Physicians of Utah, says that only means patients will be looking for more diverse doctors as well.

“Utah is going to keep browning as I keep telling everybody, and you want people to feel welcome and included when they come,” Dr. Ferguson said. “One of the first things many people seek is can I have a doctor similar to the one I had in Dallas or Houston and Atlanta? That’s what we’re trying to do to meet that need.”

Scott Roberson, who is the administrator at Alta View Hospital, says having more diverse physicians means more diverse patients might feel more comfortable seeking healthcare.

“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,” Roberson explained.

Those future doctors of color just might get their spark from a day like this one.

“It’s easier to gravitate to someone who looks like you to open the possibilities in your mind that I can be that one day, too,” Dr. Akunyili said.

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Black Physicians of Utah host Medicine Immersion Day