Welcome to the seventh post in our series Voices from #BlackWomenInMedicine. To learn more about our mission to support Black women in medicine, we encourage you to read our first blog post in the series as well as parts two through six which can be found on our News page. Black female doctors represent only 2% of physicians.1 It is our hope that by sharing stories, perspectives and wisdom from this 2%, we will inspire change so that underrepresented minorities are presented with ample opportunities to follow in their footsteps of making medicine their career. We also hope this blog series brings an invigorated appreciation for Black female physicians who have made it their lives’ work to improve the health of others, regardless of race. #PathTwitter has a unique and strong presence on the web and we hope you will take the opportunity to share this blog post and amplify these voices while reflecting on how you can bring equality to medicine.
We are excited to introduce you to our guest blogger Bettie Yeboah (@AutopsyBae), an MS4 at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia who is graduating this school year in 2021. She was recently inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society (@GoldFdtn) for serving as a role model of the human connection in healthcare. This is her story.
My mother, who is a nurse practitioner, got me interested in medicine at an early age. I loved the fact that her job was to help heal people and it was a dream of mine to do the same. As I grew up, I realized that science came easy to me and it was an easy choice to choose medicine. It was my grandmother’s dream to have a doctor in the family; she was a midwife, so medicine was always in my blood.
I didn’t get into pathology until my first year of medical school. I was drawn to many things including women’s health, serving minority groups and being a part of a greater whole. It was in my first-year course with Dr. Cheryl Hanau where I was exposed to pathology. It was amazing to see how everything just clicked into place when I saw the slides. It was love at first sight and I fell head over heels with the specialty. Everything I learned just drew me closer to pathology.
I’ve always been drawn to death medicine and culture, since it’s something not really talked about in our culture but should be focused on because in some ways it’s a marker of our loved ones going on to a new stage of life and remembrance. I shadowed a funeral director in high school and loved the amount of empathy that they were able to give to grieving families and I wanted to do the same as a physician. While I love conducting autopsies and learning firsthand how pathology and physiology play a part in one’s life, I’m still undecided when it comes to choosing a sub-specialty. However, I would love to explore Anatomic Pathology more since the fellowships sound amazing and like I can make a difference in both the family’s and community’s life and space.
In college, my scores often weren’t the best for success in medical school. I had advisors and professors tell me that it was be an uphill battle for me to even get into a master’s program. But, with the support of my family and friends, I completed a rigorous master’s program and I’m finally in my final year of medical school. To every person who was in my shoes in college or beyond, I just want to say that it is possible to become a doctor and do great things. Believing in yourself is the first step.
For those Black women in medicine, college or younger and older, I just want to say, “Don’t give up.” There have been many times that I’ve felt down and wanted to give up, but there’s always been a part of me that pushes me to keep going. The road before us is hard with obstacles only we know about and every time you conquer one of them, you’re one step closer to your dream.
Three of my biggest supporters have also been with me through my challenging college career. They’re all Black women/people and they’ve supported me in my darkest times. I know that without them and their support and love, my medical school journey would have been completely different. I want to personally say thank you to Eryn, Alex and Olivia for all the love you’ve given me this far. I hope to make you proud and be the best doctor I can for your sakes.
I feel like every year we’re told that having Black educators and physicians only benefits patients due to the diversity and worldly knowledge that they bring into their practice. Yet, the field is sadly lacking in people that look like me. I believe that there should be a greater push to actually create diversity in medical schools and residencies, to allow for people to be healed with doctors who have come from all walks of life and can fully understand the biases and obstacles their patients face daily. In a long term view, the medical school curriculum needs to be revamped to remove the harmful stereotypes of people of color and allow a new era where someone is seen for who they are and not just a walking medical question. Pathology would greatly benefit from this by allowing people from every single culture to come in and describe diseases that may be common place for them compared to just looking at medicine from a sterile Western view that’s been muddied with stereotypes and other biases.
Being a Black woman in medicine has been difficult. Speaking up when discussing topics has often labeled me as loud or abrasive, which is tiring but I wear the titles proudly. But I don’t mind it if I can at least change the way my classmates or educators speak about people of color as well as LGBTQ+ medicine. I’ve always been drawn to speak out about LGBTQ+ community issues and have educated my class in trans-health topics by becoming a Co-President of the LGBTQ+ Medical Professionals club on my campus. The club was built for LGBTQ+ physicians in training to have a safe space while studying for medicine while also providing tailored educational series to the medical school as a whole, touching upon topics that many LGBTQ+ patients face in healthcare and how we can alleviate these issues by being knowledgeable and caring physicians. The group and I have been vocal about breaking the stereotypes surrounding LGBTQ+ patients and helped make sure that the correct terminology is used in all spaces.
I wish for all Black women in medicine to speak up without fear, since their future patients will only benefit from their bravery.
We would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to soon-to-be Dr. Bettie Yeboah for her bravery in speaking up. To other Black women in medicine, we’d like to share your story in our Voices from #BlackWomenInMedicine series. Please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or message us on Twitter at @instapathbio. Stay tuned as we continue this series in the coming weeks.
Built on the vision of better patient outcomes, Instapath was founded in 2017 by engineers and scientists to enable patients to immediately know their cancer diagnosis. Our team made it our mission to develop fast and easy digital pathology technology so diagnosis can be made in minutes instead of days. To learn more about Instapath and our technology, visit https://instapathbio.com/tech/ or contact us at email@example.com.