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Rising Black voices in urology — the next generation

In 2020, Nature Reviews Urology made a pledge to actively work towards improving diversity in our field. As we head into 2021, Black urologists make up only 2% of the US workforce in urology; this lack of representation is detrimental to the field as a whole and to the patients it serves. In this Viewpoint, which follows on from our previous article ‘Supporting Black voices in urology’, 12 medical students who have chosen to enter the field recount their experiences, describing their reasons for entering urology and why they chose particular programmes. As well as illustrating the importance of mentorship and representation, they also offer ideas on how urology programmes can better appeal to Black students, in order to encourage and support under-represented minorities into our specialty in the future.

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Author information

Affiliations

Authors

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Justin Achua is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine (UMMSM), and incoming urology intern at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Originally from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, after his family immigrated from Cameroon, and having completed his Bachelor of Science in Biology and his Master of Science in Neuroscience at the University of South Dakota, Justin is a diversity mentor and clinical skills trainer, as well as the secretary of the Urology Interest Group and a member of the admission committee for the incoming UMMSM class of 2025. His research focuses on the effects of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on male sexual health and how racial and health disparities affect bladder cancer outcomes. You can find him on Twitter @justin_achua.

Jordan Rashaun Bilbrew is a fourth-year student at Western University of Health Sciences, College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific-Northwest where he served as the Vice-President of the Student Government Association and co-founder and inaugural Program Coordinator of the first diversity-enrichment programme (DREAM Program) of the college. He has recently matched into urology at Detroit Medical Center, where he plans to use his experiences to provide exceptional patient care for marginalized and under-represented patient populations, specifically in the field of gender affirmation surgery.

Keiko Cooley is a fourth-year medical student at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine-Greenville and is an incoming urology intern at Oregon Health and Sciences University. She was born and raised in Gary, IN, and received her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry with Honours from Claflin University in 2014. Professionally, she is interested in patient education, race- and gender-based disparities and medical education. Her personal interests include guitar playing, crocheting, photography, reading, writing and performing poetry.

Amber S. Herbert is an incoming resident at Stanford urology residency programme. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Neurobiology and Physiology from the University of Maryland, College Park, and went on to attend the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where she will earn her medical degree. She is the Class of 2021 recipient of Outstanding Achievement in Research. Her research interests include addressing health-care disparities, medical misinformation, and improving patient-centred educational resources. She is an avid home décor enthusiast, and she enjoys travelling and sampling international dishes. You can find her on Twitter @_AHerbertMD.

Asia N. Matthew-Onabanjo is a native of Boston and proud alum of Xavier University of Louisiana. Asia is a graduating MD PhD student at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. She is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society. In 2019, she received her PhD, during which she discovered a novel autophagy-independent role for Beclin 1 in the regulation of growth factor receptor signalling in breast cancer in an in vivo mouse model. Asia is an incoming urology intern at the University of North Carolina urology residency programme. You can find her on Twitter @AsiaOnabanjo.

Odinachi Moghalu is a postdoctoral research fellow in urology at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Originally from Nigeria, she left home at 16 to further her education and earned her Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Baylor University, Texas, and her Master of Science and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, New York. She completed a year of general surgery internship at New York Presbyterian Queens, but is passionate about urology. Her passion and dedication led her to pursue a research fellowship in urology. Her research interests are in health services, patient-reported outcomes and health disparities in reconstructive urology, and men’s health. Her personal interests include reading, watching true crime shows, working out, digital and hand lettering, and practising French. You can find her on Twitter @OddieMS.

Akya Myrie, originally from Brooklyn, New York, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Sciences from Stony Brook University and completed a 1-year post-Baccalaureate programme at SUNY Buffalo through the Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY). She is currently a fourth-year medical student at SUNY Downstate and recently matched at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. She is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society. Her professional interests include urological cancer survivorship, health services research, global health and racial disparities in urological surgery. You can find her on Twitter @AkyaMyrieMD.

Nkiruka Odeluga is a first-generation Nigerian American and a healthy lifestyle advocate for underserved populations worldwide. She spent 3 years at the University of California, Santa Barbara, earning a Bachelor of Science in Biopsychology before joining a translational oncology research team at Genentech in South San Francisco. She graduated summa cum laude with a Master of Science in Medical Science from Western University of Health Sciences (WesternU) Graduate College of Biomedical Sciences and is now an honours student at WesternU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific. Her research interests include diversity, equity and inclusion, sustainable global urology, and gender-affirming surgery. You can find her on Twitter @_PDrSM.

Jeunice Owens-Walton is a fourth-year medical student at the Medical College of Georgia and is currently completing the Medical Research Scholars Program in the Urologic Oncology Branch of the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. Her work focuses on hereditary kidney cancers under the guidance of Dr Mark Ball. She is passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion in medical education and in the delivery of health care. She is an avid yogi and wellness enthusiast. You can find her on Twitter @JeuniceMED.

Arriana Rieland is a future PGY-1 at the department of Urology at Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles. Arriana is a former graduate and Division 1 college soccer player of Jackson State University in Jackson, MS. She currently attends Howard University College of Medicine. In her free time, Arriana enjoys everything fitness and outdoor related, as well as hanging out with her 4-year-old border collie, Ushi.

Dyvon Walker is a fourth-year medical student at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and an incoming urology resident to the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. He graduated with his Bachelor in Human Biology from Stanford University and subsequently spent a year conducting research at the National Institutes of Health as a recipient of the Postbaccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award. Additionally, before his fourth year of medical school, he spent a year of urological research within the Division of Andrology at UCLA. In his free time, he immerses himself in various forms of media ranging from his work as a commissioned fine artist to engaging in critiques of cinematography. You can find him on Twitter @DyvonWalker.

Aboubacar Kaba is a fourth-year medical student at Saint Louis University School of Medicine and an incoming Intern at the University of California, Los Angeles Urology Residency Program. He was raised in Atlanta, GA, after his family immigrated from Guinea, and received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Alabama State University, a Historically Black College and University in Montgomery, AL. His professional interests include medical education, mentorship, patient and trainee advocacy, quality improvement, and addressing health-care disparities by diversifying health systems. In his free time, he enjoys volunteering in the community, staying active, and trying new restaurants. He is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society and The Gold Humanism Honor Society. You can find him on Twitter @AbouS_K.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Justin K. Achua or Jordan Bilbrew or Keiko Cooley or Amber Herbert or Asia N. Matthew-Onabanjo or Odinachi Moghalu or Akya Myrie or Nkiruka Odeluga or Jeunice Owens-Walton or Arriana Rieland or Dyvon Walker or Aboubacar Kaba.

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Related links

CURE Scholars Program: https://www.umaryland.edu/cure-scholars/

Michigan Urology Academy: https://medicine.umich.edu/dept/urology/education/medical-students/michigan-urology-academy-mua

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Achua, J.K., Bilbrew, J., Cooley, K. et al. Rising Black voices in urology — the next generation. Nat Rev Urol 18, 327–335 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41585-021-00461-5

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