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Stony Brook Physicians Talk About ‘Black Men in White Coats’ Movement

Bmwc panelists

Stony Brook Medicine’s Jedan Phillips, MD, and Wilfred Farquharson appeared on WCBS-TV on December 15 to speak about their involvement with “Black Men in White Coats,” a nationwide movement to encourage communities to support young Black men in high school and college to become physicians.

Farquharson is a clinical assistant professor of Psychology and Behavioral Health at Renaissance School of Medicine and director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Outpatient Services. Phillips is a family medicine physician and clinical associate professor of medicine at Renaissance School of Medicine.

In November, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee at Stony Brook University brought a powerful, 80-minute documentary, “Black Men in White Coats”, to Stony Brook and hosted two nights of related panel discussions.

Bmwc panelists
Panelists Ishu Kant, MD; Jedan Phillips, MD; moderator Wilfred Farquharson, PhD; and panelist James Bernasko, MD; with audience members from the Suffolk County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, a historically Black sorority dedicated to public service with an emphasis on programs that assist the Black community.

The premise of the film is that if more young Black males see more Black male doctors, they will say, “I can do that, too.” The importance of having more Black physician role models has reached crisis proportions. Today, Black men have the lowest life expectancy in the U.S. while only 2 percent of doctors in the U.S. are Black men. It’s a message that parents and educators, middle school and high school students, undergraduate and medical students, and the entire community need to hear, see, learn from and act upon.

The two evenings of insightful, related panel discussions around the film provided insights into the Black male journey leading to medical school and experience in the field of medicine. Featured were six of Stony Brook’s own “Black Men in White Coats.” While each panelist’s path was unique, there were common threads throughout. The panelists also touched upon some of the programs that Stony Brook offers to help attract Black males into the field of medicine.

Panelists for the first panel discussion included: Jedan Phillips, MD; Ishu Kant, MD; and James Bernasko, MD. Panelists for the second panel discussion featured recent Stony Brook University graduate Aaron Duncan, BS; and two Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University students, Jermaine Robertson, BS (second-year medical student) and Emelio Woodstock, MS, (fourth-year MD candidate). The discussions were moderated by Farquharson.

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