A former security guard is now working on the front lines during the coronavirus pandemic as a medical student at the same hospital he worked for.
Dr. Russell Ledet worked as a security guard at the Baton Rouge General Medical Center in Louisiana for five years.
He shared how he would study medicine on note cards and ask doctors if he could shadow them.
Most of the doctors may have been too busy to help him out, but the chief surgery resident Dr. Patrick Greiffenstein took him under his wing and jumpstarted his career.
“This is one of those reflective points when you’re trying to understand how far you’ve come and how far you got to go,” Ledet said in an interview.
A U.S. Navy veteran, Ledet has a Ph.D. in molecular oncology from New York University and is currently enrolled in both the M.B.A. program and medical school at Tulane.
He has now returned to the same hospital where he started his medical journey, hoping to help patients of color and to teach the next ambitious prospective student who hopes to enter the world of medicine.
He also calls this opportunity, a reminder of his “humble beginnings,” and shared, “I’m from Louisiana. Being from here and understanding a lot of the health burdens and health disparities, I know if I’m not loud about it, then who will be?”
While he is proud of how far he has come, he and his family are traumatized by the reality of the racial climate that his wife of 14 years urged him not to leave the house without his white coat in the car.
“My two little Black girls can turn on the TV, once a week, sometimes once a month, and they see a video of somebody who looks like them being murdered and it’s legal,” said Ledet.
“These kinds of things are happening and no matter how much education I have, society doesn’t see me as a human.”