Charles Drew University Launches Its School of Medicine to Create Tomorrow’s Doctors – NBC Los Angeles
In Willowbrook, Charles Drew University has been teaching medical students for 57 years. But it’s not just training aspiring doctors, yet.
Last month, the university welcomed the first batch of students to its new, integrated medical school.
“The day I got my acceptance letter, it was just ‘congratulations’ and I fell to the ground because I had been working for so many years for this,” said student Selom Gbeonyo. “I told my mom, I told my sister, and it seemed like a dream come true because I knew from when I was younger that I wanted to be a doctor.”
For many years, CDU has collaborated with UCLA to train future doctors.
Last October, after years of creating and designing its own program, the school received the accreditation it needed to begin classes.
The entire program is designed to help fix glaring racial disparities in health care, said Dr. Deborah Prothro Stith, dean of CDU’s School of Medicine.
“They come from diverse backgrounds and bring to the table a wealth of not only passion, but knowledge,” Prothro-Stith said. “I think they will make some of the best doctors this country will ever have, quite frankly.”
The inaugural class consists of 60 students, most of whom are people of color, who were selected from a pool of more than 900 applicants.
In California, 45% of the population is Latino or black, but those groups make up only 10% of doctors, according to school officials.
The program is designed to help fix this disparity, which officials believe will also lead to more trust among communities of color.
“The people we selected had personal experience with discrimination, medical racism, poverty and injustice, and were resilient and thriving in their environment,” said Dr. Margarita Loayza, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Admissions. “We have a really mature group that really understands, and we have people from the community who understand the problems in the community, and they will fix their own problems.”
Prothro Stith believes this is an opportunity for the students and the school to change not only the face of health care, but also the long-term economic status of their community.
“Imagine the little boy or little girl walking down the street, watching us walk around, seeing our students. They will be able to see what they can be. This is really important,” she said. “They will be able to imagine that they can be the same thing, the doctor,” she said. Medical leader. So, I think Charles Drew’s legacy goes beyond this community. But a big part of it is here.”
All that matters to Gbeonyo is to carry out this mission.
She and 59 other students in the first class are scheduled to graduate in 2027.
“You know, we’re up and coming,” she said. “There’s been history made, and there’s history to be made.”
(tags for translation) Willowbrook