After the recent killings of black men and women by police officers, we stated that not only are we committed to fostering an inclusive work environment, we are also committed to helping the world become an equal and inclusive place to live. We wanted to put actions behind these words and shout Black Lives Matter, which we are hoping to do through our social media platform. We are giving voices to those who may not have been heard before or as equally as deserved, voices from those who have experienced discrimination and racism firsthand and repeatedly, voices through a format that can be amplified and shared. We welcome you to our blog series, Voices from #BlackWomenInMedicine, where you will find just that - Black women in medicine, specifically pathologists who are in various stages of their career. Through Twitter, we asked Black female doctors to share their personal experiences with racism, and we are honored to share these experiences, and more, with you through this blog post series.
We were fortunate to have a candid conversation with Dr. Michele West (@DocBarbieMD), an incoming PGY-1 at University of Minnesota in Minneapolis about stereotypes in the science field, specifically the medical ecosphere. Dr. West told us, “My first experience with stereotypes in science and medicine started early in undergrad school. I was told by a young African American male that the fact that I was majoring in science, a Caucasian area, makes me a traitor. He continued to tell me that I was rejecting our history by specializing in science. Other times I was told that Blacks are not meant for science majors because it was a white person’s major.” We choose to think smart, hardworking and determined students are meant for science majors. It’s appalling to think an individual would discourage a person from having and/or pursuing such an aspirational goal because of the color of their skin. But there’s more.
Dr. West continued, “While racial stereotypes exist in medicine, these stereotypes transcend racism to even include sexual orientation, physical appearance and personal hobbies and beliefs. Not only am I a black woman in medicine, but I also happen to love fashion and beauty. And many times I was told I couldn’t enjoy both fashion and medicine. That’s another stereotype in which female physicians can’t look a certain way.”
We hope the voice of Dr. West will encourage you to reflect on your own beliefs about doctors and stereotypes you may hold. With digital pathology on the heels of the traditional microscope, we’re on a path to a new frontier where long-held beliefs about medicine will be challenged. One belief that must be challenged is that black women can’t be doctors. So where do we go from here?
Dr. West concluded, “The best way to break stereotypes is to convey an open acceptance of the core of who we are as individuals and only focus on the most important aspect of medicine which is treatment of patients and ameliorating patient outcomes.”
If you would like to share your experiences, we would love to hear from you. Please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.