Above: Katlyne Jeter is the founder of the student group Minorities in Medicine. (Photo provided)

While in between classes at the College of Charleston, senior Katlyne Jeter works on the frontlines of COVID-19 research.

This formidable student took a full-time position with Charleston-based Precision Genetics (now Precision Molecular Solutions), in December 2020, after the first wave of the pandemic. As a specimen technician, Jeter, who is majoring in biology, collects and processes samples of the virus to be studied. She says she’s just doing her “part to help fight COVID-19,” mentioning this casually while making her way back to campus after a day at work.

Jeter wants to be a doctor, specifically in the field of obstetrics and gynecology. She has observed a lack of minorities in the medical field and knew she wanted to help fill that space. It has been reported over and over that studies show an implicit bias against Black women patients in medicine. And according to the American Journal of Managed Care, Black women are more than three times more likely to experience maternal death than white women. Jeter wants to help find a solution to this problem.

“I want to make a change in someone’s life, and a baby is a big change,” she says.

Minorities in Medicine students at the musc urban farm

Students in the Minorities in Medicine organization participated in a day of service at the MUSC Urban Farm in the fall of 2020.

Jeter talks about the need for more prenatal care for minority women and more doctors that look like those patients – particularly professionals who can understand the struggles of the Black community.

While planning to change the future, Jeter has already changed the paths of over 60 CofC students in the past semester. Jeter is the founder of the campus organization Minorities in Medicine. The service-based group supports underrepresented pre-health students and pre-health students interested in health care disparities at the College of Charleston, as well as other institutions, by providing them with the necessary tools and skills needed to apply to professional school.

“Even as an orientation guide in my first year, I noticed that there was a lack of minorities going into medicine,” says Jeter.

Minorities in Medicine brings minority students together, giving them opportunities to study, work and volunteer. They share notes, advice and encouragement.

“I think this organization is something that was needed amongst minority pre-med/pre-health students,” says Minorities in Medicine Vice President Anaya Smith. “This organization is important because this allows underrepresented pre-med/pre-health students to become more knowledgable about the medical field, especially through events about specific careers within the medical field. I have personally learned a lot from being a part of this organization, from how to get into medical school to learning that there are different paths everyone takes to get in. Minorities in Medicine has had a variety of successful events that have been able to engage with interested minority students and encouraged them to keep up the hard work because it is all worth it in the end.”

With the help of connections Jeter made through the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), Minorities in Medicine is now recognized by the Student National Medical Association, a student-run organization focused on the needs and concerns of Black medical students in the United States.

Jeter also uses her contacts at MUSC to host chats between professionals in the medical field and students in Minorities in Medicine. Past guests include admission counselors at MUSC, registered nurses, representatives from the MUSC School of Pharmacy, and many more.

While Jeter is focused on graduation in May, she is also concentrating on making sure that Minorities in Medicine will continue when she leaves CofC. She wants to see more Black men and women represented in medicine.

“I like to say that we are always planning for the future,” says Jeter.