Black, Hispanic students train with medical professionals at Advocate Christ hospital

Wednesday, June 19, 2024
Black, Hispanic students train with Advocate medical professionals
Black and Hispanic students with the I Am Able Foundation trained with medical professionals at Advocate Christ hospital in Oak Lawn on Juneteenth.

OAK LAWN, Ill. (WLS) -- A local group is working to promote access to the field of medicine for a population that is typically under-represented.

Students of color got hands-on lessons from experts on Juneteenth.

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On Wednesday, 25 local students with I Am Abel Foundation trained with doctors and staff at Advocate Christ Medical Center. The patients may not have been real, but the training was.

The Black and brown students are often the first in their families to consider pursuing a career in medicine.

"They are learning how to place IVs, they are learning how to intubate," said Dr. Chinelo Okafor, Advocate Children's Hospital Medical Director for Diversity Equity and Inclusion.

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James Wells IV is a senior student at Lindbloom High School. He said he wants to take care of his family and others.

"I want them to know I can take care of you, not just as a son, but somebody can really make a change for you, and once I become a doctor I want to give back to my community to make sure everybody feels better," Wells said.

Dr. Okafor said more Black and brown care providers are needed.

"It's shocking," she said. "It's surprising that we still have these disparities historically... and this is another way to mitigate some of those inequities.

Dr. LaMenta "Sweetie" Conway created the I Am Able Foundation.

"I am inspired," Conway said. "I'm looking at these kids amazing kids, and they are not just going to be doctors. They are going to be change makers. They are going to change the world. They are going to bring healing, and that's what we are here for."

Tiffany Hicks starts medical school in the fall. Her experiences as a young cancer patient motivated her go into the field.

"I don't want anybody else to feel like this," Hicks said. "I want to step in the gap for patients no matter what the color... just to step in to let them know a physician cared and they could depend on somebody."

It is the second year Advocate Health hosted training for I Am Abel students. The foundation is mentoring and supporting young people year round to bring more Black and brown doctors into the industry to assist their careers and ultimately to improve patient outcomes for all.