The U.S. Bureau of Labor says physician and surgeon jobs will grow more than 10 percent in the next seven years. Racking up a median pay of more than $200,000.

Recently, hundreds of high school and undergraduate students came to Augusta to learn more about their possible medical careers. It was all apart of the 8th Annual Igniting the Dream of Medicine Conference at Augusta University’s Medical College of Georgia. 

While job growth is substantial in the medical field, people at the conference say there is still a need to diversify.

“I wouldn’t trade my journey for anything,” said the conference’s founder Emergency Surgeon Dr. LaShon Sturgis.

Some people may think their medical career dreams are out of reach so Dr. Sturgis started Igniting the Dream of Medicine Conference in 2011.

Medical student Bria Carrithers said, “Physician workforce is changing. We’re becoming more accepting of various minority communities to come and to treat patients who are minorities.”

First-year Medical College of Georgia student Jabreia James didn’t always want to be a doctor. She came to her first ignite conference in 2014.

“After going to the sessions and seeing the other students in the white coats and having conversations with them, I realized medical school was something I was a lot more interested in and I don’t think I would’ve had not of come to the program,” explained James.

It is no secret medical school can be difficult.

“The hardest part of medical school is studying,” exclaimed Carrithers.

James added, “Going to medical school, it takes time. It’s not something you wake up one day and say I want to be a medical student or I want to be a physician. I would say study hard.”

“There’s a lot of things you’re not able to do. You give up your twenties and your early thirties in the pursuit of medicine so while your friends are having the time of their lives, you’re studying.”

At the conference, students got the chance to see what med school and future careers will be like. Dr. Sturgis said there’s a need to diversify. 

“It’s important because patients will open up to you if they feel comfortable with you and that’s where the minority piece comes. If you’re seeing a physician who looks just like you, that comes from a similar background, you may tell them those pieces of information that you may not be as comfortable as telling someone else.”

Carrithers added, “You’re definitely seeing a change in the culture. A shift in the culture and I think overall you’ll be able to serve those who are in need.”