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Meet Lauren Senkbeil of Coalition of Black Men Physicians

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauren Senkbeil.

Lauren, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
The idea to create the Coalition of Black Men Physicians eventually arose through discussions related to health disparities and the dearth of black men in medicine. Today, less than 4% of practicing physicians are black men, a statistic that has remained stagnant since the 1970s despite steady increase in the numbers of black men and women living in the US. Discussions with Dr. Rasheed Ivey and Dr. Richard Morgan (resident physicians and co-founders) on creating a solution were catalyzed after the passing of our friend, 4th-year UCLA Medical Student, Dr. Kwame Firempong. Dr. Rasheed Ivey, Dr. Richard Morgan (resident physician executive board members), the late Dr. Firempong, and myself have interacted closely throughout our medical education journey inevitably becoming friends. As we move forward, we have become business partners who have taken these statistics highlighting the lack of black men in medicine personally, as we have all endured what is required to get into medical and be successful in this field. We aim to create a cultural movement where pathways are created for black men who aspire to enter medicine through providing fellowship, mentorship, programs that prepare students with academic resources, and financial support of course- scholarship funds. Previously, as a pre-medical student, I manned the email and social media as the first student executive board co-chair of Community Service with the Association of Black Women Physicians. During that time is when I acquired the skillset needed to create a national forum for black male physicians and felt it was my duty to help organize black men to transform the face of healthcare in our communities.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It has been anything but smooth. As far as journeys to medical schools go, mine has been eventful. I am a 6th-time applicant and previously matriculated medical student that started at Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara, Guadalajara, MX and now at Ross University of Medicine in Barbados. I have spent the majority of my adult life applying to medical school and working jobs just to pay for application fees and extra courses to increase my science GPA. If I could go back, I would’ve taken my time in an undergraduate much more seriously, because it has hindered me through my entire career. In this journey, I have had to step outside of my norm to make money- which led me to background acting in Los Angeles and eventually to PR, Marketing, and events and working with the BET Awards, Amber Rose, and getting a national billboard campaign with AIDS Healthcare Foundation for their Reducing the Stigma Campaign.

In 2014, my first medical school lost their federal funding and resulted in me leaving the institution. That was a pretty depressing point in my life, but thankfully I had a great mentor (the late Dr. Carole Jordan-Harris) who picked me up and put me back on my feet. The most difficult part of the journey was losing my father in 2017 and having to study for my MCAT as his health was declining. Battling clinical depression and reapplying was very difficult. I took time off work and really slowed down. Having a great therapist is how I came back to normal daily functioning. In my nontraditional route, I have had to get creative- especially during the pandemic when I was unemployed. That is when I started Health X Hollywood (my other nonprofit organization) and later, the Coalition of Black Men Physicians to help students get through the medical pipeline because I knew how expensive and difficult it was personally.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Coalition of Black Men Physicians?
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, 3.1% of medical school student enrollment included Black males for the 1978-79 school year. This state of emergency exemplifies more recent statistics where only 2.9% of medical school enrollment included Black males in 2020. With over 40 years of progress intended to mitigate health disparities in black communities, the issue of training culturally competent black male physicians capable of transforming health in medically underserved communities has worsened. Many organizations have delved into identifying the underlying causes behind underpinning the phenomenon of under-representation of black men in medicine and it has been recognized that much intervention is needed. Black men not only have to not only overcome systemic racism present throughout our national academic pipeline but maneuver through a system that lacks resources and opportunities for growth. Barriers that prevent black men from realizing a career in medicine include financial limitations, lack of representation, and dearth of cultural support.

At the Coalition of Black Men Physicians, we are dedicated to utilize evidence-based practices to address barriers that prevent Black men from accessing equitable opportunities in medicine. We recognize that it is necessary for all stakeholders to convene to design and execute a shared mission and vision that not only addresses health disparities in black communities but increases the number of culturally competent physicians capable if creating change. Showcasing black male physicians role models in the field through our social media outlets and while providing a platform for o discuss shared experiences create the foundation of what is going to change the culture amongst black men to cultivate a community that embraces mentorship and fellowship. Aim to provide through networking and fellowship. The organization has taken this national crisis personally, and we aim to provide measurable solutions in the next 5 years to dismantle this broken system and change the face of medicine to better reflect and serve our diverse nation.

We are excited to announce that the Coalition of Black Men Physicians has created a National Holiday to celebrate the accomplishments of black men in medicine across the nation. The inaugural National Black Men Physicians Day 2022 will be held on September 12th at Sofi Stadium in Los Angeles. Our mission at the Coalition of Black men physicians is simple: We aim to challenge the status quo through manifesting inroads into medicine for black men to create change where none has been seen in the last 40 years.

Can you share something surprising about yourself?
Aside from my aspirations in medicine, I am very passionate about the beauty industry and have created a lash/makeup line that will be launching later in the year. I am the oldest child, only daughter (two younger brothers). I am from Naperville, IL. I miss Los Angeles every day and am trying to stay focused in my last few months in Barbados so I can come home. I am a first-year medical student.

I am a previous billboard model for AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s Reducing the Stigma campaign. I am a 6th-time medical school applicant. This is my second time in medical school. I use my previous event planning experience with the BET awards and Amber Rose’s Slut Walk to apply to the Coalition of Black Men Physicians.

You can donate to the Coalition of Black Men Physicians at www.blackmenphysicians.org

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@arnoldshoots Arnold Turner @blackouttv Arron Mundy

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