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Black doctor speaks out about decreasing number of African American physicians and the need for more

Two colleges have joined forces to offer free scholarships to African American students that want to become doctors and dentists.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Did you know only 5% of the doctors in the United States are African American men? Local 24 News Weeknight Anchor Katina Rankin spoke to one Black doctor who says the narrative must change. He offers some solutions. Plus, two colleges have joined forces to offer free scholarships to African American students that want to become doctors and dentists.

"We need to provide more exposure to people who don't understand about the relevance of having African American males and the pipeline decreasing. This is an essential part of healthcare," said Dr. Kito Lord.

Dr. Kito Lord is an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. He's also the medical director at the department of emergency medicine. He's a minority in more than one way. He's an African American male. But he's also only one of 5% of Black men in the U.S. that are doctors.

"It's a little disheartening sometime. You look around and you realize that the number of African American males especially have declined, decreased, and I think one of the things we need to do is to figure out why and invest in strategies to help promote African American males getting through medical school," said Dr. Lord.

That's where Tennessee State University and Meharry Medical College are stepping in. The Historically Black College and Universities (HBCU), TSU, is trying to create a pipeline of African American doctors and dentists. As a matter of fact, TSU is offering free scholarships to high school seniors interested in stem.

"We're always left behind: lack of access, lack of resources, just not enough funding for our HBCU's that produce so many great students. So, that's why we promote STEM courses," said TSU President Dr. Glenda Glover.

TSU President Dr. Glenda Glover said the university has received funding from the Cares Act and other federal money to change the narrative, and that's why the school is offering the free ride to African American men and women.

Dr. Kito Lord, a graduate of two HBCU's: Morehouse and Howard, said the HBCU route is essential for African Americans - not only because it makes the education more affordable, but it also provides mentorship among people on the same journey.

"You do need funding. And I think having those programs that help provide scholarships and funding not only provide a pathway that's viable, but also motivation to continue on that pathway which is really essential," said Dr. Lord.

And he said it leaves a lasting impact on communities across the nation.

"Diversity is essential to healthcare in terms of providing compassion, with different perspectives, helping to enrich the learning environment. So, there's a lot of positive things about diversity," said Dr. Lord.

Learn more about the scholarships HERE.

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