As a child, Kaiser Permanente provider Dr. Joy Thurman-Nguyen was passionate about science and medicine but never considered the possibility of becoming a doctor because of her skin color. Born and raised in Seattle, Dr. Thurman-Nguyen noticed the lack of diversity in the backgrounds of other physicians.
In 2014, while she was a medical student at the University of Washington, she decided to do something about it and created the Doctor for a Day program. The youth outreach program is organized by UW-Student National Medical Association to help young students of color in high school and middle school pursue a career in medicine.
Students come together for a full day of firsthand experience and education during the monthly program. Medical students help them practice hands-on skills such as performing an ear exam, taking a medical history, intubating mannequins, and suturing bananas. Many of the volunteers come from diverse communities and make a personal connection with the youth participants, serving as role models and teachers. The program has touched the lives of more than 1,300 middle and high school students from diverse backgrounds in the King County area.
“My favorite moments are toward the end of the day when I get a quick sample of what the youth enjoyed most,” says Dr. Thurman-Nguyen. “Hearing students say that they learned about a new career path because of Doctor for a Day makes me feel proud.”
Historically, minority students are more likely to practice primary care after graduation from medical school, practice in an area of need, and have an intimate understanding of their own community’s health challenges and strengths.
Kaiser Permanente is a proud supporter of Doctor for a Day. Community efforts like this help to create a diverse and inclusive workplace for our members and communities. Doctor for a Day is making a difference in the community and touching the lives of children looking to enter the field of medicine.
Want more local health news, wellness tips, recipes, and more? Subscribe to our email newsletter.