Ole Miss student focuses on improving health care for African Americans

Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 4:57 PM CST
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OXFORD, Miss. (WMC) - This Black History Month, one Ole Miss student is using her own health care experiences to encourage diversity in Mid-South hospitals.

Eboni Eddins, a senior biology major, will soon begin medical school at Ole Miss.

“What really got me sprung on medicine is when I started studying abroad,” Eddins said.

She spent a summer in South Africa, immersing herself in the culture. “While I was there, the class I took was about the apartheid and AIDs, so it kind of like mixed my two career goals, of one, dealing with racial injustices and also the health care system as well,” she said.

Eddins says she found parallels between American and South African health care systems, so much so, she wanted to make a change.

“It’s really eye-opening for me to go to South Africa and see what they’re going through because a lot of people think that they’re so different than us, but some of the same things happening there are happening in Mississippi,” Eddins said, “like the shortages of doctors, not everyone having access to the internet and things like those.”

According to Mississippi State Health Department, there is just one Level 1 Trauma Centers in the state and just one children’s hospital.

Eddins says the lack of Black doctors in a state that’s 38% Black is another issue she sees in health care.

“I think it definitely does come down to having more doctors that look like us actually in the health care field, actually interacting with people and sharing our stories, because it’s one thing to hear about it, and it’s another thing to actually have experienced it yourself,” she said.

For Eddins, patient advocacy is critical. “It’s really hard to advocate for yourself when you don’t understand what’s going on,” she said,” and you don’t know what questions to ask, so I want to create spaces for people to be able to get second opinions and be able to ask those questions that they may not feel comfortable asking their doctor, or things that might have been ignored.”

And for those coming after her, Eddins leaves this advice:

“Just take every opportunity offered to you and never count anything out, and also never be afraid to ask for help.”

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