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Black History Month: This South Florida doctor saves lives, goes above and beyond to mentor medical students

Posted at 5:11 PM, Feb 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-09 17:11:18-05

In honor of Black History Month, we’re highlighting African Americans in the community who are impacting the lives of South Floridians. Today, we’re featuring a cardiac surgeon who not only saves lives but goes above and beyond to mentor students through medical school.

“The thing that separated him was the he was so enthusiastic about wanting to help us,” said medical student Issac Duggan.

At age 19, twin brothers Isaac and Isiah Duggan, knew they wanted to get in the medical field. The long and major steps of becoming a doctor, inspired them to find a mentor. For them, it was extremely important to find a doctor who looked like them. But it wasn’t easy.

“It was challenging but it really meant a lot to try to find somebody who had similar background and similar struggles and challenges. There’s not a lot of people who look like us who hold that role,” said Issac.

Then they found pediatric cardiac surgeon Dr. Immanuel Turner.

“I was looking for an academic surgeon who is also African American, which is really hard to find in this country. I was messaging Dr. Steven Bibevski through Facebook messenger and I was asking him if there’s any way he an get me in contact with Dr. Immanuel Turner. Then Dr. Turner replied through Dr. Bibevski's Facebook page, then we started exchanging emails,” said Isiah.

Dr. Turner helped the twins with studying for the MCAT, the interviewing process and picking the right schools.

“It is something to see somebody that looks like you as one of your mentors in fellowship and in medical school. Even as you get into the work place, somebody that’s higher up or a chief of a program that you see,” said Dr. Turner.

The former University of Michigan wide receiver had two choices when he finished college; go pro or go to medical school. Inspired by his parents, he chose to become a doctor.

“It’s the people that actually on a day-to-day basis provide mentorship and be a role model. They may not be a heart surgeon or a political figure but just a teacher. The janitor who helps the community,” said Dr. Turner.

“The continued response, the text messages, from someone who he didn’t even really personally know at all. It just says a lot about his character,” said Isiah.

“He didn’t just get to where he wanted to be and focuses on that. He gets people who also want to do that and he spends his time helping them,” said Isaac.

Dr. Turner told me his motivation are his patients and mentees. He says if you’re someone who’s applying to go to medical school, you can contact him for any questions you may have at iturner@mhs.net