Exploring Medical Careers | Beaufort County Now

Rise Up conference brings potential medical students to campus east carolina university, ECU, medical careers, medical students, campus, february 20, 2020
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Exploring Medical Careers

Publisher's note: The author of this post, Spaine Stephens, is a contributor to ECU News Services.

Dr. Dale Okorodudu, founder of Black Men in White Coats, shows students how to perform a bronchoscopy during the Rise Up: Pathways to Diversity in Medicine conference on Feb. 8. | Photos: Cliff Hollis

    During conversations about the future, Delisa Davis's mother always reminds her to step into new experiences ready to take advantage of opportunity. That's why when Davis learned about the Rise Up: Pathways to Diversity in Medicine conference, she jumped at the chance to get a hands-on look at a career in medicine.

    Davis, 17, a student at J. H. Rose High School in Greenville, joined more than 160 other eastern North Carolina students-ranging from elementary school to college-for the inaugural conference Feb. 8 on East Carolina University's Health Sciences Campus.

    "I came so I could get a little more insight into the medical field," Davis said, surveying the manikins and monitors in the Brody School of Medicine's Clinical Simulation Center during a tour. "There are so many virtual and technological aspects of medicine that I didn't know about."

    Rise Up: Pathways to Diversity in Medicine provided tools and encouragement for youth from diverse backgrounds to explore their potential in medicine. The conference featured interactive experiences for invited elementary, middle and high school students as well as for students attending community college, college and graduate school.

Delisa Davis, right, and other students watch a demonstration on locating the carotid artery and checking the pulse during the Rise Up conference.
    Sponsored by the Brody School of Medicine, Brody Office of Diversity Affairs, Division of Student Affairs, Honors College, Undergraduate Admissions and other ECU and community partners, the conference was headlined by nationally renowned speaker and author Dr. Dale Okorodudu.

    Participants gathered at the start of the day to hear from Brody leaders and guest speakers that they have resources available to them to pursue a future in the medical field.

    "We're here to give you an opportunity to experience what health care careers are like," said Dr. Cedric Bright, associate dean of admissions and interim associate dean for diversity and inclusion for the Brody School of Medicine. "I want you to take full advantage of what you experience here today."

    Dr. Mark Stacy, dean of the Brody School of Medicine and vice chancellor of ECU's Division of Health Sciences, reminded the students to remember the various support systems ready to help them succeed.

    "This is an exciting day for me because of you," he said. "Think of all the people who want you to be here and want you to achieve your dreams."

    Okorodudu, assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, founded Black Men in White Coats, an organization that seeks to increase the number of black men in medicine through exposure, inspiration and mentorship. He also founded Diverse Medicine Inc., a program that works to increase ethnic and socioeconomic diversity within the field of medicine.

    In his keynote address, Okorodudu expanded on the theme that in order to achieve their dreams, the students would need to draw upon the support of those around them and pay attention to the experiences of others who took similar career paths.

Delisa Davis, right, and other students watch a demonstration on locating the carotid artery and checking the pulse during the Rise Up conference.
    "Nobody gets to where they are by themselves," he said, adding that a formula for success is mapping out goals from the start. "You have to have goals. If you don't know what you want in life, somebody else is going to tell you. You have to know what you want to get out of your own life, for yourself."

    After the main program, students broke into groups based on age and participated in programs in campus facilities including a tour of Laupus Library's Virtual Reality Lab and the Country Doctor Museum exhibit. College students learned more about the pathway to medical school, study skills and resources available to them. Teachers and parents attended a session on how to best support promising students who aspire to be doctors or other health care providers.

    In Brody's simulation center, Davis went from room to room with her peers, standing back to absorb all the information they were provided.

    "It's really neat how real the manikins are," she said. "It's been exciting to see more into this program and what goes into being a doctor."

    Donovan Rainey, a first-year Brody medical student from Durham, served as an ambassador for the program, guiding each group to their next breakout session.

    "I grew up in a town where medicine is really prominent, and I wish I had been able to learn then about the opportunities in medicine," he said. "That's an obstacle for some people that they have to get through."

    Rainey said he wanted to help with the first Rise Up conference because he can serve as an example to younger people with big dreams.

    "These students are able to see people who look like them and think, 'If they can make it, I might be able to as well,'" he said. "I want to reflect that in the next generation of medical students."

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