By Kaitlyn Wallace
The new year provides a time for us to reflect on our values, both as individuals and as communities. The last few years have seen an increased push towards diversity, equity, and inclusion across a variety of industries. Though it may seem that there are not many opportunities for the medical meetings community to support such efforts, there are a variety of ways to get involved in making medical and corporate spaces accessible for everyone. One such opportunity is support of the Herman L. Reid Sr. Endowed Medical Scholarship Fund.
History and Significance
The fund honors Herman L. Reid Sr.’s commitment to service and to uplifting the African American community through education and occupation. Reid was born in 1901, a time in which segregation and exclusion of Black citizens from education and employment was both legal and common. Despite these challenges, Reid was employed by the Philadelphia Company (the holding company for Duquesne light) for forty years, during which he helped found and lead the Philadelphia Company Colored Employees Association to advocate for the status and number of African American employees in the company. The group was active for over twenty years and assisted numerous African American employees in professional advancement. As Dr. Herman Reid III, grandson of the fund’s namesake and member of the administration committee, explains, “The Herman L. Reid Sr. Endowed Medical Scholarship honors his selfless effort to help others, and we invite everyone to participate in this worthy effort… He knew the value of an education and knew that encouraging us to get educated would pay divisions far down the road. This is really a look forwards for the wellbeing of future generations.”
The Herman L. Reid Sr. Endowed Medical Scholarship Fund aims to address inequities in medical education by providing financial assistance to one African American medical student at Temple University every year. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), just 5% of all practicing physicians identify as Black or African American, despite making up 14.2% of the general US population, according to the Census Bureau. The reason for this disparity is multi-factorial. The cost of medical education continues to climb, with students in 2022 graduating with an average of $200,000 of debt (Forbes, 2022). With Black families holding only 2.9% of national wealth, five times less than their share by population (Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 2021), financial barriers may be particularly consequential for African American students. Other possible factors include insufficient exposure to medicine and lack of identifiable mentors (Rao and Flores, 2007). As Dr. Reid explains, “the number of African American males in medicine continues to decline. It’s getting more and more difficult to attract minorities to the health sciences. We don’t want a financial impediment to stop anyone from pursuing medicine.”
Implications for the Medical Meetings Community
How can the medical meetings community support these efforts? First and foremost, says Dr. Reid, the medical meetings community can look out for opportunities to support and mentor young people in need. “The best thing you can do is publicize opportunities like this, and to make yourself accessible by either donating, or by connecting to young people who want to seek out this career but don’t know who to talk to,” says Dr. Reid, “The earlier you look after them, the more you encourage and talk to young people, the better chances they will have to develop an interest in and pursue medicine.” The medical meetings community has an obligation to uplift populations that have been underserved by and excluded from medicine in the past, both by seeking out mentorship opportunities like the ones described by Dr. Reid and by participating in philanthropy by publicizing and contributing to opportunities like the Herman L. Reid Sr. Endowed Medical Scholarship Fund.
Donations can be sent to Dr. Herman L. Reid III via the address attached below and will be housed by NEED (Negro Educational Emergency Drive), a nonprofit which invests and manages the funds. As we move into 2023, we urge members of the medical meetings community to reflect on and make actionable steps towards achieving the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the medical meetings industry– both by supporting funds like the Herman L. Reid Sr. Endowed Medical Scholarship Fund, and by finding opportunities to support and uplift young students and professionals from a variety of disadvantaged backgrounds.
Kaitlyn Wallace is a contributing writer from St. Louis.
Dr. Herman L. Reid III, MD
18920 Roscommon Rd.
Evansville, IN 47725