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Dr. Jerome Adams: The importance of having relatable doctors

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Studies consistently show that people are more responsive to their health care when they can relate to their doctors, says Dr. Jerome Adams.

In light of those studies, the WISH-TV medical expert and a former U.S. surgeon general talked with News 8 on Wednesday about a report released Tuesday that showed 6% of doctors in the United States are Black.

The report raised concerns that a lack of diversity in doctors can actually harm patient care.

Adams said that “the study just reaffirmed what we’ve long known, particularly for Black males. There are fewer going into medical school now than what there were in 1978, and this is not just an ethical and moral issue. It really does impact patient care.”

Having a relatable doctor is important for all types of patients, Adams noted. To make that happen, Adams suggested more research is needed “into how we can improve the pipeline.

“Some of it is tuition assistance, because, quite frankly, it’s expensive to go to medical school. It’s a daunting task, but that alone is not enough. You can’t just give someone money and say, ‘Hey, go for it.’ I’m someone who has personally been fortunate to be able to be a part of pipeline programs where they provided me not only a scholarship, but also academic and social support.”

Role models also are important to encourage youths to enter medical fields, Adams said.

Fighting medical misinformation

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is turning to memes and YouTube to help fight medical misinformation on the internet. The topic is one that Adams says he’s discussed with Robert M. Califf, the U.S. commissioner of food and drugs.

Adams also noted recent testimony from U.S. medical officials to Congress about disinformation over COVID-19 vaccines and other medical treatments leading to preventable deaths in the nation.

Despite the medical misinformation coming from YouTube, TikTok or other online sources, Adams said that “a lot of times it’s making sure local doctors have the information they need to actually be able to make good recommendations to their patients.”

About the Ohio train derailment 

After the Feb. 3 train derailment in New Palestine, Ohio, should Hoosiers be concerned their air or water could be easily contaminated by a rail crash?

Adams said Wednesday, “I actually talked to a CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) official about this today, and they said that they’re doing a good job of actually monitoring the situation and right now there is absolutely no reason for people in Indiana to be concerned, but we’re just going to have to stay posted.

“The problem is once these chemicals are out there, it’s hard to contain them, which is why you want to prevent a disaster like this instead of treating it. But, I’ve been assured that, again, they’re on top of it and they’re going to continue to keep us updated.”

Health Spotlight is presented by Community Health Network.