I would break it down to a pipeline effort, outreach, and creating a track record. Through a longitudinal program, I worked to increase the pipeline of Blacks in otolaryngology by talking to medical students, undergraduates, people in residency and fellowships, and even high school students. I also spoke at conferences on otolaryngology sponsored by, for example, the Black Medical Association or Latin American organization.
I also encouraged people to get involved with any kind of health disparities programing. Michigan had a rotation designed for people interested in health disparities, and it allowed residents to fulfill an elective without the financial burden of doing a month-long elective in a different city.
ENTT: From the patient perspective, do you see the benefits of having a more diverse physician workforce?
CT: I’ve had patient encounters where a white patient may say “Ah, I’m not sure about this,” when they see me as their physician. I believe the best way to change a patient’s perspective is to give patients really good care. I’ve had patients tell that they didn’t like being treated by a Black doctor, but by the end of their care they told me they were thinking differently about how they view minorities.
ENTT: What changes would you like to see in medical education and training to help create a more diverse physician workforce?
CT: The main thing is exposure. Many medical students don’t have otolaryngology as an elective, as some medical schools don’t offer it. You tend to go into specialties that you know exist. Just having more exposure would promote people going into it, especially minority students. But it is a balance. Some of the communities that actually need Black doctors need more primary care doctors for the whole health care system.