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Stepping from a slave cabin into a new era of medical education
The 15 White Coats has established two initiatives to support 50 aspiring physicians from HBCUs, HSIs and Indigenous Serving Institutions. Deadline to apply is Oct 15.
It has been three years since fifteen Black medical scholars wearing white coats stood in solidarity on the steps of a Whitney Plantation slave cabin in Wallace, Louisiana. All of them were physicians at various stages of training.
Because their arrival personified the adage “We are our ancestors’ wildest dream,” the group took a photo, shared it on social media, and then organized as The 15 White Coats.
From that, The 15 White Coats was established to be a critical support for aspiring physicians and revolutionize medical education for underrepresented students.
Earlier this month, The 15 White Coats launched two initiatives thanks to a $500,000 investment from biotechnology giant Genentech.
“This initiative is a culmination of years of hard work to find enough funding to truly prepare the next generation of diverse healthcare professionals,” said cofounders Ledet, Dr. Sydney Labat, Dr. Rachel Turner, and Student Doctor Brian Washington Jr.
This Genentech partnership includes the Funding the Future Physicians Initiative and the Tethered HBCU Tour.
REVOLUTIONIZING MEDICAL EDUCATION
The Funding the Future Physicians Initiative is laser-focused on addressing the financial burdens that often deter promising underrepresented students from pursuing careers in medicine.
This 6-month, virtual cohort program offers an interconnected approach to support MCAT preparation, mentorship, personal statement crafting, interview preparedness, culturally-attuned mental conditioning, and financial aid for 50 students from HBCUs and Hispanic-serving and Indigenous-serving institutions. Each participant will be awarded more than $5,000 in aid. Applications are accepted through October 15and sessions are set to start in November.
Recognizing the pivotal role HBCUs play in nurturing a large portion of the country’s Black medical professionals, The 15 White Coats will also host a Tethered HBCU Tourat 14 campuses next fall.
Organizers said their mission is “to support and uplift the next generation of underrepresented physicians, ensuring they receive the education and mentorship they need without the weight of financial strain.”
USHERING IN A NEW ERA
Since its inception, The 15 White Coats has awarded more than 50 scholarships ranging from $250 for high school students to $5,000 for pre-med students. Each month $1,000 scholarships are awarded. The organization has also funded scholarships for medical student’s incidental fees, including MCAT and STEP 1 study prep fees, residency application fees, and a one-year subscription to the CALM app.
They have established the Resilient Readers Book Club for young readers and continue to use merchandise like tote bags, mugs, and clothing to fundraise. In fact, there is a new Resilience is in our DNA t-shirt where sales will help establish a virtual Black doctors lecture series, place 1,000 posters in classrooms, publish a children’s book, and create a 15 White Coats puzzle.
In 2021, the organization also donated $3,000 to the Whitney Plantation to help with repairs and payroll after Hurricane Ida.
“With Genentech’s generous support, we’re set to usher in a new era for underrepresented medical students. Our dual initiatives will not only help mitigate the financial pressures these students face, but also provide them with a community, mentorship, and resources that will propel them into successful medical careers,” said Ledet, who is a Louisiana native and graduate of Southern University and A&M College, NYU School of Medicine, and Tulane University School of Medicine.
Genentech is a biotechnology company that “discovers, develops, manufactures, and commercializes medicines to treat patients with serious or life-threatening medical conditions. [It has] a commitment to diversity and inclusion beyond the lab, extending into partnerships that make meaningful changes in the broader medical community.”
“Thanks to Genentech’s unwavering support, we’re amplifying our mission, offering essential financial aid and guidance for minority students with aspirations in the medical realm. Our steadfast belief is that diversity refines healthcare. With Genentech’s collaboration, we’re transforming this belief into tangible outcomes,” said Ledet.
Visit The 15 White Coats by Oct. 15 to apply for Funding the Future Physicians Initiative.