UTHSC hosts Determined to be a Doctor Someday Symposium

Minorities are very unrepresented in the medical field. The University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center wants to reverse that trend. 

“The numbers are staggering,” said Dr. Christina Rosenthal. “According to the American Medical Colleges Association, the number of black males in medicine is lower than it was in the 1970s.”

UTHSC alumna Dr. Christina Rosenthal founded the Determined to be a Doctor Someday organization because she came from an underprivileged, under-served background having grown up in a single-parent home and not knowing her father.

“I decided that if I ever became anything I wanted to reach out to others who may have grown up in a similar pattern, to show them that there is a different world out there and that they could be whatever they chose to be despite their external circumstances,” she said.

One hundred high schoolers from underprivileged backgrounds got the chance to learn more about careers in health care at the Determined to be a Doctor Someday symposium on August 26 at the Student Alumni Center at UTHSC.

Students aged 14 to 18 were participated in the Memphis event from across metro and rural areas. his year’s group includes students from Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee.

“We expose them to different careers health care: medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, optometry, and biomedical engineering research,” said Rosenthal, who has run Paradigm Dental Center in Southeast Memphis for the past 11 years. “There are a lot of barriers to careers in health care for some children, and one of them is mindset. You can’t become something you’ve never been exposed to.”

The one-day DDS symposium, which was the fifth DDS symposium since 2011, is a preview for an intensive six-month program that begins in January. Many of the students will go on to participate in that program.

In addition to hands-on activities, breakout sessions, and a panel discussion, four $1,000 scholarships were awarded in honor of Dr. Wisdom Coleman, a Memphis dentist who served as Dean of Admissions for The University of Tennessee College of Dentistry.

Funding for the scholarships came from the Delta Dental of Tennessee for the second year in a row.

Rosenthal’s goal is to expand the program to other cities, with the Nashville area as a possibility for next year.

“Regardless of what city you live in, we all share a similar experience,” she said. “Even beyond the inspiration to pursue health care as a career, I think what the symposium does that differentiates it from others is it provides hope.”

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Michael Waddell is a native Memphian who returned to Memphis several years ago after working for nearly a decade in San Diego and St. Petersburg, Fla., as a writer, editor and graphic designer. His work over the past few years has been featured in The Memphis Daily News, Memphis Bioworks Magazine, Memphis Crossroads, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Contact Michael.