Tailoring a New White Coat

Brittany Talissa King
6 min readNov 23, 2023
After making history at IU, Russell Ledet, MD, PhD, MBA, is helping others follow in his footsteps. Photo by Ben Meraz.

Our health is precious to us. And choosing a medical doctor is essential, yet personal. But for many members of minority communities, it can be difficult to find a skilled physician who shares their background and identifies with their challenges.

In the state of Indiana, for instance, there’s only one Black doctor for every 3,200 Black residents, and only one Latine doctor for every 4,600 Latine residents. For perspective, there’s one white doctor available to every 340 white residents. (All figures are approximate.)

As the largest medical school in the country, Indiana University School of Medicine is striving to address these alarming statistics by diversifying medical training and opportunities. One way the school is taking action is by learning from the resident physicians who have matched to IU — like Lake Charles, Louisiana, native Dr. Russell Ledet, who has been spearheading effective change from Louisiana to Indiana and across the United States.

In 2022, IU and Ledet made history. He became the first Black man to match into the School of Medicine’s Triple Board Residency program: a unique opportunity where future physicians become board certified in three disciplines. Ledet’s fields are pediatrics, child psychiatry, and adult psychiatry, focusing on mental health accessibility for marginalized communities.

These areas of study are meaningful to him because they reflect what was absent in his childhood. “During my upbringing, I didn’t have quality health care,” Ledet shared. “I didn’t have mentorship. I didn’t have mental health advocates.” In fact, Ledet couldn’t remember anyone ever asking what was going on in his body, his heart, or his mind.

On that historic “match day” in 2022 — the day on which thousands of medical students across the U.S. learn where they will train for their residency — Ledet’s triumphant moment was captured on video. Filled with emotion, he shouted to himself over and over again, “I’m proud of you, Black man!” The moment went viral on social media, was picked up by several news outlets, and ultimately landed Ledet on Good Morning America and The Kelly Clarkson Show.

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Brittany Talissa King

Writer and journalist. I explore race and social issues through history and pop-culture. @b.talissa IG. @KingTalissa Twitter. Journalism MA — NYU.