Bridge the gap for health care in the minority community

Heart disease, hypertension and diabetes disproportionally affect minority communities in the Upstate and beyond.

While many health care systems have focused on helping diverse communities make lifestyle changes to battle these life-threatening diseases, Prisma Health is leading the way in taking another approach to handling these epidemics.

We want to address these disparities by inspiring more underrepresented groups to seek careers in health care, changing the face of who is providing health care in these communities. This emphasis will be a key part of the 13th Annual Community Health Summit on April 6, 2019 at the Greenville Convention Center.

Twin sisters Brandi Jackson, MD, and Brittani Jackson, MD, will keynote the event, addressing the unique challenges faced by minorities looking to begin medical careers. The event will also include a panel discussion with Prisma Health physicians and medical students, who will share their journey, challenges and stories of what inspired them to become doctors.

The Drs. Jackson created MedLikeMe.com, a free online community that supports and inspires those who are traditionally underrepresented in the field of health care – primarily people of color and those in the LGBTQ community. According to Harvard Business Review, African-Americans make up 13 percent of the population, but only 4 percent of U.S. doctors.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the nation could be short as many as 120,000 physicians by 2030, yet only 6 percent of current medical school students are African-American (only 2 percent are African-American males).

We hope to inspire young people attending this free event to start looking seriously at careers in health care and medicine. We want to share the Jackson sisters’ and the panel’s experiences to show the importance of mentorship, scholarship and parental guidance.

In addition, there will be a formal program that kicks off at 10 a.m. in the Main Ballroom with health assessments and consultations that will allow attendees to check for warning signs of diabetes and other chronic diseases. These screenings empower members of our communities to be informed about their lifestyles and to take control of their health.

The Community Health Summit takes place Saturday, April 6 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Registration, lunch and parking are free. To learn more and register, click here.

Melinda Gillispie, MSN, RN is Manager of Multicultural Affairs and Pipeline Initiatives at Prisma Health–Upstate, formerly Greenville Health System.

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