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"Until you ask the questions, you can't have the answers"

The first Hopkins Medicine Dean's Symposium in Washington, D.C., highlights the institution's efforts to reduce health disparities among minorities
Posted May 10, 2017

How can health care providers step in to help when transportation challenges prevent low-income citizens from seeking primary care? How can researchers ensure diversity among clinical trial participants so the results accurately indicate how drugs affect multiple pouplations? How can the medical profession bridge the gap of distrust between many minorities and the doctors who want to help them?

"We certainly don't have all the answers" to these questions, said Paul B. Rothman, chief executive officer of Johns Hopkins Medicine at the Dean's Symposium on Improving Minority Health and Achieving Health Equity on April 12. "But until you ask the questions, you can't have the answers. And we're asking the questions."

The event, co-hosted by the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., featured a panel of doctors, researchers, and medical students from across Hopkins who shared the institution's progress on these fronts.

"We are testing comprehensive interventions — working not just with individuals, but health systems and community partners who deliver services, to target multiple levels of this problem," said Lisa Cooper, a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor and vice president of health care equity for Hopkins Medicine who headlined the panel.

Philanthropy plays a major role in these efforts by advancing research but also by increasing diversity among those delivering the care: aspiring doctors like Zachary Obinna Enumah. The fourth-year Hopkins medical student, who has received several scholarships including the Henry M. Seidel, M.D., Scholarship and the James F. Nabwangu, M.D., Scholarship, was part of the evening's panel.

"Diversity in appearance leads to diversity in experience," Enumah said. "If you want to elevate the emotional intelligence of students, residents, and faculty, it's important to bring that diversity to the classroom, because we will bring that to the clinic."

Learn more about what Cooper, Enumah, and their fellow panelists had to say on The Hub.