LSU Health Shreveport hosts annual HBCU Education Conference for students interested in the medical field

Only four HBCUs out of more than 100 across the country offer medical school programs.
Published: Nov. 10, 2023 at 6:31 PM CST
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - LSU Health Shreveport is celebrating diversity with its annual Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Education Conference.

Each year, the conference is hosted by the LSUHS Office for Diversity Affairs with support from various other organizations. The event started in 2019 as a two-day event with five schools represented. Now, the conference welcomes students from out-of-state HBCUs as well. This year, 66 students from 13 different universities nationwide attended the conference.

“So far, everyone’s been totally nice and kind, which is great when you’re going into a new environment, especially something as daunting as medical school,” said one prospective student who currently attends Howard University, Jasmine McKay.

Only four HBCUs out of more than 100 across the country offer medical school programs.

“LSU Health Shreveport is honored by the 66 HBCU students considering our institution as a place to pursue a career in healthcare or medical research. We work diligently to create an environment where all students feel welcome and are provided with the support required to ensure their success. The opportunity for these prospective students to meet our current learners, faculty, and leadership is an ideal way for them to recognize the depth of our investment and interest in student success. I extend deepest thanks to the organizations and individuals who supported the 2023 HBCU Educational Conference as their financial support may well result in an underserved student achieving their goal of a career in medicine and/or science,” said Dr. Toni Thibeaux, assistant vice chancellor of diversity affairs.

“Increasing the amount of Black women and men that are in medicine is really important, so initiatives like this at LSU Shreveport really help aspiring medical students matriculate at medical schools that are not HBCUs,” McKay said.

The conference allowed to prospective students to spend time with LSUHS representatives, staff members, and students in order to learn about becoming a doctor, allied health professional, or researcher. At the conference, prospective students tour the campus, including getting a sneak peek of the Center for Medical Education, which will start hosting classes in January of 2024.

“And when we discover and reflect on the lack of Black and African American physicians across the United States and we realize the impact that LSU Health Shreveport has on an opportunity to change that, we’ve been able to increase the number of students from our HBCUs who applied to our medical school, those who were extended invitations as well as admissions,” said Dr. Thibeaux.

Also new this year is a gala honoring LSUHS diversity pioneer, Shirley Roberson. She served as the first director of multicultural affairs at LSUHS Sciences Center for more than 20 years. Roberson served as a role model for many students as a biology instructor at Southern University and an employee at NASA.

“A lot of individuals that look like me, that come from my community don’t exactly trust the system that we have in place and that’s because of past mistakes our healthcare system has made,” said Renthony Wilson, a prospective student who currently attends Xavier University.

Also at the gala, attendees will hear from keynote speaker, Dr. John Stewart IV, who is the chair of the department of surgery and the chief of surgery for the Morehouse School of Medicine. He’s a nationally recognized surgeon who got his medical degree at Harvard, and complete his general surgery residency at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He finished fellowships in surgical oncology, tumor immunology, and molecular oncology at the National Cancer Institute. He’s also got a master’s degree in business administration from Wake Forest University.