NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – You can tell by the smile on Dr. Robert Johnson’s face that he loves what he does.
The dean of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick if the first person in history to lead two medical schools, reports CBSN New York’s Meg Baker.READ MORE: 2nd Former Aide Accuses Gov. Andrew Cuomo Of Sexual Harassment, Governor Requests Independent Review
“Having passion about what you are interested in gives you the opportunity and all the energy to do it,” said Johnson. “And have to find issues you want to do something about.”
One of those issues is a shortage of black men in medicine.
“The population of African-American doctors my age is aging and moving out of practice, and the number of young black men in medical school is going down,” he said. “It’s been going down since 1978. We’re coming to period where black doctors are disappearing.”
A study by the American Association of Medical Colleges shows the number of black male applicants for medical school has not increased in 36 years. Only about 1,400 apply each year nationwide.
Johnson says a long term solution is to spark interest earlier in life.
“We have to be invigorating our local education programs to encourage and help young men get interested in high school into science,” said Johnson.READ MORE: NYPD: Good Samaritan Killed, 3 Hurt In Stabbing Linked To Illegal Brooklyn Gambling Den
That’s how Phabinly Gabriel from Newark started to dream bigger.
“I met these neurosurgeons who came to biology class and blew my mind,” said Gabriel, now a medical student. “Wow, the brain.”
These medical students look up to Dr. Johnson.
“It’s truly inspiring to see someone in that position that looks like me,” said medical student Ryan Mahoney from Long Island. “We never get to see that essentially.”
“He makes himself very available to us and because of that availability, we’re able to see what is possible for us,” said Ayodeji Folarin from Williamstown in South Jersey, another medical student inspired by Johnson.
They hope to use their platforms as doctors to give back to their communities and mentor African American youths like Johnson has done in his 50 years in medicine.MORE NEWS: Nassau County Executive Laura Curran Exposed To Positive COVID-19 Case, Will Quarantine
Johnson says improving education solves a whole bunch of problems, not only increasing the number of African American doctors but also reducing crime and drug rates.