Wayne J. Franklin, MD, FACC, co-director and Robinson Family Endowed Chair of the Phoenix Children’s Center for Heart Care and associate director of the Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program at Phoenix Children’s, received the 2022 Breaking Barriers Award from ElevateMeD. The award recognizes physician leaders whose work addressing health care disparities is positively and innovatively impacting diversity within medicine.
“This award really means a lot to me because it was given to me by my peers, namely the talented people from ElevateMeD, founder and executive director Dr. Alyx Porter Umphrey and co-founder Dr. Greg Umphrey,” Dr. Franklin said. “On the one hand, it is gratifying to know that our work is being acknowledged, but it is also disappointing that we are still having to break barriers in 2022.”
Dr. Franklin, who joined Phoenix Children’s in 2018, is a professor in the Department of Child Health with additional appointments in medicine and in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix. He is the first African American endowed chair at Phoenix Children’s.
“I am personally appreciative of the Phoenix Children's Hospital Foundation, and specifically officers Ginger Brandt and Patty Barney, who helped develop this award. In addition, I am forever grateful to the Robinson Family who funded this endowed chair and made this award possible. It is due to the Robinson’s tremendous generosity that we will be able to ensure a bright future for heart patients at Phoenix Children’s,” Dr. Franklin said.
Dr. Franklin believes a healthy community starts with talented local doctors. He started the Underrepresented in Medicine Scholarship to provide financial support for the recruitment of diverse medical students to enroll at the College of Medicine – Phoenix. In October 2021, Dr. Franklin launched a grassroots fundraising campaign and met his goal of $25,000 in just six weeks. The College of Medicine – Phoenix matched it for a total of $50,000 that went directly toward helping underrepresented in medicine students.
“It is definitely not enough to cover all their expenses,” Dr. Franklin said, “but at least it’s a way to help recruit some of the best and brightest minds and help diversify our medical school. I am also proud to mention that in the last two years, we have had the most diverse medical student classes in the history of the College of Medicine – Phoenix. My hope is that over the next five years we will raise a lot more funding, and then by 10 years, perhaps we could find a long-term donor who would help continue these diversity efforts in perpetuity.”
Inspired by these young students, Dr. Franklin said he is motivated to empower them along the way. “Hopefully, these students will return to their community and provide motivation and assistance for younger students coming along after them. I found that the higher one climbs in academia, in health care administration and in leadership, the less diverse it gets. I also feel it is part of my duty to help others rise and succeed so that we may continue to have more diverse seats at the table.”
ElevateMeD’s mission is to elevate the field of medicine by providing financial support and mentorship to future physicians from African American/Black, Latinx and Native American backgrounds. Through their Scholars Program, they aim to increase physician workforce diversity and improve cultural competence among physicians to reduce health disparities.