(Good Things Utah) Intermountain Healthcare and Black Physicians of Utah recently collaborated for the first ever Medicine Immersion Day, a community mentorship event to benefit students of color from communities across the state. 

The 1st annual Medicine Immersion Day was hosted at Intermountain Alta View Hospital and provided the opportunity for Black high school seniors and college students pursuing careers in medicine to gain mentorship from doctors in various specialties.

“Alta View Hospital is proud to partner with Black Physicians of Utah. Our hope is that this immersive Medicine Day will inspire young Black students to consider careers in medicine,” said Scott Roberson, administrator of Intermountain Alta View Hospital.

A recent report, In the Nation’s Compelling Interest: Ensuring Diversity in the Health-Care Workforce, states that increasing ethnic and racial diversity among health professionals is important because evidence indicates that diversity is associated with improved access to care for racial and ethnic minority patients, greater patient choice and satisfaction, and better educational experiences for health professions-based students, among other benefits.

Data also shows that patients of racial and ethnic minorities are generally more satisfied in receiving care from minority professionals (Saha et al., 1999; La Veist and Nuru-Jeter, 2002).

“Since education and vocation are such important social determinants of health, inspiring Black youth to consider a career in medicine goes a long way toward fulfilling our mission of helping people live the healthiest lives possible,” said Roberson.

Black Physician of Utah Mentee and BYU Student Keegan Musaalo has benefited from mentorships and resource programs. He has been able to meet and connect with fellow Black pre-medicine students who were working toward medicine school, like him.

It wasn’t until freshman year of his undergraduate studies that he met a Black physician for the first time. He was particularly captivated that the doctor looked like him

He gave Musaalo some valuable counsel which gave him the glimmer of hope he needed to continue where he then connected with Dr. Richard Ferguson, who mentored him throughout his process of finishing his undergraduate degree, taking the MCAT, and preparing to apply to medical schools.

“Events like Medicine Immersion Day have provided even more opportunities for me to learn about my future career, increase the confidence I have in my own ability and capacity to be a physician, and grow my support network,” said Musaalo. “More than anything, I no longer feel so isolated in my journey.

“It’s crucial for each of us to have enthusiastic support from those in the positions we dream of someday reaching,” he added.

This full day event at Intermountain Alta View Hospital encompassed various workshops, panels, and more, to fully immerse students into a day in the life of a physician.

Students were welcomed and had opportunities to participate in breakout groups where they were able to experience specialties such as labor and delivery, scrub in and visit an operating room, where they learned about its procedures and anesthesia, as well as a hands-on simulation where they learned to draw blood.

These opportunities allowed students to better understand the experiences of Black physicians that found their paths into medicine, as well as ask questions and get advice.

“I strongly believe in the saying, ‘If you can see it, you can be it’,” said Richard Ferguson, MD, president and founder of Black Physicians of Utah. “Mentorship by Black physicians and other providers of color gives guidance and opportunities to African Americans in Utah, who have been overlooked or dismissed. I would not be where I am today if it were not for the mentors who fostered my interests in science and medicine at an early age.”

“Black Physicians of Utah has provided me with these people. They truly want me to become all that I can become, and I could not be more grateful,” said Musaalo. “In turn, they have inspired me to help other Black pre-med students at BYU and elsewhere to receive the resources they need to become physicians. I hope to someday be the Black face that will inspire and give hope to another kid like me.” Medicine Immersion Day will continue to evolve as an annual event and be a resource to students of color throughout the community in Utah.

To learn more, go online to IntermountainHealthcare.org.

**This segment contains sponsored content