Innovative Contributions to Medicine: Olamide Dada - BHM Edition

As we celebrate Black History Month, Melanin Medics has had the privilege of interviewing influential individuals who are doing extraordinary work for the black community, within the field of medicine. This week we had the pleasure of talking to Olamide Dada, the Founder and Chief Executive of Melanin Medics: an organisation for black current and aspiring medical students and doctors.

Please kindly introduce yourself and what you do?

My name is Olamide Dada and I am the Founder and Chief Executive of Melanin Medics. Melanin Medics advocates for black medical students, aspiring medical students, and doctors. As Chief Executive, I oversee the organisation’s activities and developments, as well as managing the team and taking part in public engagements on behalf of the charity.

Tell me a bit more about your journey into medicine

I always knew that I wanted to study medicine but I was not always confident that I would get in. The area that I grew up in was relatively deprived and I knew that if I wanted to maximise my chance of getting into medical school, it would be best to attend a sixth form in a different area. However, when starting at a new school, the teachers do not really know your track record. My new Chemistry teacher did not want to give me the predicted grade that I needed for medicine even though I had performed well at AS Level. This was a big blow for me because I had finally summoned the courage to apply for a place at medical school, but it felt like that decision was now in the hands of a chemistry teacher. This was not fair and luckily my dad intervened! He spoke to the Head of Sixth Form who changed my predicted grades. I ended up achieving those predicted grades, getting three interviews and two offers, and I am now in my final year of medical school.

What inspired you to start this initiative/project?

At the beginning of Year 13, I found my mentor, a black female GP who had grown up in the same area as me. She was extremely influential in my medical application process. When I got to medical school, I remember looking around the lecture hall and wondering where all the other black students were. I started to question why there were not so many of us. Was it because we were not applying? Was it because we lacked support? Was it because we did not think that we could get into medical school? What was the problem? I started Melanin Medics to address these issues and increase representation of African and Caribbean people in medicine. Initially, I wanted to help people successfully gain a place at medical school, so I started a weekly blog to share my experiences and tips. As time progressed, I realised that there was a lot more to the problem than met the eye and that there were many factors influencing representation in medicine, throughout a person’s medical career. This realisation triggered the growth of the organisation!

What has been the most rewarding part o