PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Azra Dees, a fourth-year medical student at Jefferson University’s Sidney Kimmel Medical College, is one of only 30 in the United States selected for the NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative.
“I think the NFL’s initiative has been amazing,” Dees said.
The NFL developed the program to encourage medical students from diverse backgrounds to consider careers in sports medicine.
“We don’t see a lot of medical professionals within that field specifically that look like us,” Dees said.
The American Medical College said under 2% of orthopedic surgeons are Black, and even fewer are Black women.
Dees said it’s important to change that, especially for treating professional football players.
“When you look at people in the NFL, there are a lot of players who look like me or players of color,” Dees said. “I think that it’s definitely important for them to see people who are taking care of them that look like them.”
Dees is a lifelong Eagles fan but for her training rotation, she was placed with the New York Jets to get firsthand experience working in an NFL club setting.
“Sheer knowledge was great for me, but also understanding how patients are managed,” she said.
Dees has to admit working for the Eagles would be a dream.
“Growing up as a fan, I might be less objective than I would want to be,” she said.
Dees said her interest in sports medicine started when she was a young dancer.
“I did jazz, tap, ballet,” she said, “Fun fact, I also tried to do basketball and volleyball at the same time.”
From a young age, Dees understood the important connection between sports and medicine. She hopes the future will bring more diversity.