By Ayo Onikoyi
Reseau Docteur is a french phrase for ‘Doctors Network, a network of health professionals who share ideas and mentor upcoming professionals. It was founded in 2015 by US-based Nigerian, Dr. Alexander Oladele.
Although it was originally founded as a network that featured just health professionals, but it has since blossomed to encompass professionals in law, engineering and a variety of other disciplines. In this interview with AYO ONIKOYI, the founder unveils the big idea behind the network that is rebuilding the image of Blacks across the world.
What’s the big idea behind forming Reseau Docteur?
The goal of forming Reseau Docteur was to reverse the psychological impact that was affecting many African Americans at a point where a lot of black men were getting killed. Sadly, many of these images and interactions with police were televised.
You can only imagine what happens to a people’s mental health after watching their own people become the victims of police brutality over and over again. We started Reseau Docteur with the intention of displaying positive images of black men and women in a variety of careers including medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, law etc. With time the organization began to grow and today we have much more than just a social media page. We have a built a community of minority professionals where we can continue to share our visions.
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Since the formation in 2015, what are cheeriest stories you have to tell?
There have been so many amazing moments. One of our most proudest is our yearly mentorship program where we provide mentorship to students all over the country by way of online webinar based discussions. It’s a 8-10 week program and each topic is presented by a Doctor or a professional student within our network. This program is for students who are interested in professional careers such as medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and to date we have awarded over 200+ students with certificates of completion.
Another highlight is when our founder Dr. Alexander Oladele though the help of our social media community was able to raise over 6000 USD within 3 days for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, one of the most deadliest hurricanes to hit US mainlands. Members of our team then flew to Texas following the aftermath to provide money to the victims as well as aid during their time of difficulty.
Is it entire a black thing?
It’s not necessarily just a black thing, we focus on under represented professionals. We’ve posted many individuals who aren’t “black” because they have a compelling story or because we believe it would help inspire our followers in some way shape or form.
Any plan for Nigeria, or Africans as a whole?
America needs more Black Doctors and there is a wealth of data that shows that African Americans are more likely to trust a healthcare system when the health provider actually looks like them. There is a huge gap within the healthcare community and it’s due to a lack of diversity.
In terms of Nigeria, many of the Doctors within our network are actually from Nigeria. I’ve met with a few of them in the past. One of the things we plan on doing, especially as more of our professionals travel more is to add a service component to our trips where we utilize our medical professionals to provide primary care services and education to countries like Nigeria.
So, what more can you tell us about the organisation?
To date, Reseau Docteur has been an incredible resource to many professionals. We have provided referrals for employment opportunities, provided scholarships to students matriculating into college and also partnered with various organizations to amplify the importance of mentorship.
While the organization began in 2015 simply as a network that featured just health professionals, we changed our strategy to include those in law, engineering and a variety of other disciplines to be more inclusive.
What your projections for the future?
We have quite a few projects in the works. One of those includes incorporating healthcare programs into countries we travel to. We have an abundance of medical professionals on our trips so our goal is to have 1 or 2 days where we provide services to any country that we are visiting.
Another plan that’s in the works are healthcare conferences where we would bring all professionals together rather than one particular discipline. If you look at how medical conferences operate today, they usually are events that cater solely to Pharmacists, Physicians or Dentists. While this is great, it would be great to bring the experts in from each discipline so we can learn from each other and engage in best practices to move healthcare forward. There’s a wealth of information we all can learn from for example nurse and if we are able to all come together under one roof, it would help us to see everything from a holistic perspective.
What are the typical challenges facing this kind of endeavour and which have you particularly surmounted?
One of the biggest challenges is communicating our goals to healthcare authorities and having them accept it. We went to Cuba with 52 people, half of them being medical professionals and it was a challenge to even tour the hospital. Obviously each country has a different stance and policy governing the provision of services but we foresee it being a challenge. Ultimately, when we visit a country, we want to be given authority and support by the government to provide services such as blood pressure screenings, glucose monitoring and overall health education to the citizens
Why is the name in French “Reseau Docteur”?
While thinking about a name initially, I mentioned to my 2 co founders that it should be some type of Doctors Network and Drs. Trevor Thomas & Isaac O’Neal looked up the phrase Doctors Network in French. What we found was Docteur Reseau and we initially started marketing this name until someone on twitter told us to flip it around to Reseau Docteur. Since then the name has not changed and has grown into a brand that thousands of people now recognize. I am the principle founder. I also want to mention Dr. Rosetta Garries who was our medical advisor and mentor to many of the students and professionals in the Network. She’s a Plastic Surgeon based out of New York and is a celebrity physician to many renown individuals such as Serena & Venus Williams.
What’s the connection between Reseau Docteur and JetBlack Travel Group
Reseau Docteur is the platform that inspired JetBlack Travel Group, which is now its own stand alone company. The first trip ever was when we took 52 professionals to Cuba in September of 2018 and following that trip, JetBlack Travel Group was incorporated. To date, RÃ©seau Docteur along with other companies continue to serve as official partners of JetBlack Travel Group.