COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A group of doctors at Ohio Health is training the next generation of Black physicians.

The program Made for Medicine is for Black middle schoolers in central Ohio and carries the motto, “If it is to be, it’s up to me.”

Dr. Laura Espy-Bell founded the program in 2021 to help train the next generation of Black physicians.

“With only 5% of all physicians being Black and only 2% of those physicians are women, Black women, it was important for me to start thinking about the next generation,” she said. “The pipeline and what medicine looks like moving forward in the future.”

Two years and four cohorts later, that next generation is well underway.The program is for Black middle school students who have expressed an interest in the medical field.

Their monthly meetings consist of learning medical concepts, taking trips, and getting hands-on experience, referring to themselves as doctors and wearing white coats, to speak their future into existence.

Tuesday was no exception as they got to take part in the simulation lab at Riverside Methodist Hospital.

“We teach them what we know,” Espy-Bell said. “So all of our faculty members are Black, 11 including myself, and that was intentional because, for me, it’s important for these kids to be able to see themselves in us.”

And for some students, their reason for joining goes deeper.

“Originally, I wanted to be a fashion designer, but God really spoke to me and said, ‘I need you to help people,’ and this is what He led me to,” said eighth grader Myanna Brown, 14, who has been with the program since it began and has her sights set on being a dermatologist.

“I have a lot of skin problems and issues in my family, so I just want to help them and for them to see that they can see, ‘Oh, she can do it, so, again, so can I,’” she added.

Brown is grateful to see people around her doing what she wants to.

“It inspires me because I have mentors that I also help at my school, so I really want to be an example to them so they can say, ‘Oh, she did it, so so can I,’” she said.

For Espy-Bell, that is what the program is all about.

“To see them just thrive and be engaged, and be excited about medicine is just overwhelmingly amazing,” she said. “It’s just a purpose that I feel like we’re all fulfilling.”

Espy-Bell said the program will support the students through the high school years. The goal is to help each student reach their end goal of being a doctor in their selected field.