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Local doctors visit Benton Harbor students to discuss career paths

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- A special event at Benton Harbor High School on Wednesday brought local doctors “back to school” to discuss their careers and how minority students can achieve the same success.

“Those of you that are seniors, have you decided already where you want to go to school?” asked Dr. Lynn Gray, an emergency room doctor with Lakeland Health, who led Wednesday’s discussion.

It was an intimate conversation about an important topic.

“There just aren’t enough African American, Hispanic, Native American physicians in the workforce,” Dr. Gray said.

Students learned about what it takes academically to pursue a career in medicine.

They also heard from a local nurse and were told about the ongoing physician shortage in America, especially in minority communities.

“That makes me want to do that cause I can make a change!” said junior Zakaira Coleman, who is considering becoming a doctor.

Justin Brown, another junior, wants to study sports management, but still found value in hearing the doctors talk about the highs and lows of their careers.

“Learning their backgrounds and like what it takes to be a doctor really set the mood of like what I need to do when I go to college,” Brown said.

The event is part of a national campaign by the American Medical Association to introduce minority students to more opportunities.

Dr. David Malaka, who works as a hospitalist at Lakeland Health, came to America from Nigeria in 2005.

At Wednesday’s event, he said the chance to inspire minority students to pursue medicine like he did will only help the future of the industry.

“It really shouldn’t matter who treats you, but it just helps, it boosts their confidence, when they see people that look like them,” Dr. Malaka said. “And when we have more people who are minorities in medicine or in the health care field, it just, overall, helps us to provide general better variety and better health for the people.”

This is the second year this event was held at Benton Harbor High School.

The doctors said it’s all about showing students they can succeed, just like adults who look like them.

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