I just fired ALL my doctors.
Of course, as a patient I don’t have the power to literally “fire” my doctors. As a matter of fact, I’m sure each of my former physicians is doing just fine, with thriving practices and growing patient lists.
I bet they won’t even realize I’m no longer a member of that patient list. And that’s one of the reasons why I fired all my doctors. Follow me as I list three top reasons I fired my doctors, and why I believe, actually know, why we need more Black doctors.
1. Doctors of color say we need more like them.
I attended a spiritual retreat a couple weeks ago, and to say it fed my soul is an understatement. Time away from the grind of life, long walks in nature and meeting some fascinating people doing justice work around the country was truly balm for my soul.
One of the most unexpected and inspiring conversations that weekend was with a 30-something guy who was born in Morocco, but now serves in the medical field in the US Army. I told him that my youngest daughter wants to enter the medical field and that, instead becoming a doctor, she is now considering becoming a nurse anesthetist.
He unapologetically stated (and I’ll paraphrase here), “Becoming an RN is a wonderful goal, and we need great nurses. But your daughter shouldn’t waver from her desire to become a doctor. She’ll have more influence to effect change as a doctor. And we need more women doctors. We need more Black doctors.”
And the most powerful words he shared: “Your daughter will have naysayers telling her what she can’t or shouldn’t do. Tell her to never be her own naysayer.“
Can the church say AMEN?
My daughter is only 14-years-old and has lots of time to chart her career path, but I shared with her everything my new Moroccan brother-friend shared with me. And this resonates with me even today: we need more Black doctors.
2. Black doctors put BIPOC patients at ease.
I hate going to the doctor. I mean literally, undeniably, hate it.
But I’m also a proponent of a healthy lifestyle, and a close relationship with my physicians is part of that lifestyle. So I make the regular appointments, subject myself to all the suggested screenings, get vaccinated, and all that.
One thing that puts me at ease regarding my healthcare journey is having doctors that I feel connected to. That’s why all my doctors are female. And that’s why I fired all my previous doctors and replaced them with women of color.
Last week I had my first appointment with my new GYN. I’d heard a lot about her, and felt a connection before I entered her office. When I met her I felt an immediate ease. She and I talked about our alma mater Howard University, where she earned her medical degree and I earned my B.A. We talked about her daughter attending Howard now, and how her sophomore year is going.
We chatted until it dawned on me that I wasn’t there for a coffee date with a new girlfriend. I was there for my annual examination. Honestly, it felt so good to have found not only a new doctor, but a doctor who gets me and my experience as a Black woman.
It was truly empowering.
And the empowerment I felt is what I’ve needed. It’s what more women of color need.
3. Black doctors are more likely to truly see and hear their patients.
The reason I fired my primary care physician (PCP) is laid out in my previous posting Black in White Spaces: Disparities in Healthcare.
Now mind you, I liked my old PCP. She was easy to chat with, funny, and we actually connected well. But as soon as I discussed the physical issues that I’ve been dealing with for at least two years, she minimized my concerns. She’d run labs before, but never dug deeper into my symptoms. And when I mentioned a family history connection and the fact that I was feeling progressively worse, she would say, “Oh, but your such a healthy woman.”
My interpretation was, Oh, but you’re such a strong Black woman.
Medical studies show that doctors often minimize the pain that Black women feel. There’s a belief that we can handle more pain than our white counterparts.
We are often overlooked — unseen and unheard.
So you can imagine the satisfaction I felt when my new GYN asked a few questions after my exam, and sent me for additional tests. Now mind you, I had shared not one complaint or concern. So she explained her reasoning for the precautionary screening by stating, “Just to make sure we aren’t missing anything going on.”
Never have I ever.
Let me just say, this is the Number One reason we need more Black doctors. We need doctors that will look beyond the stereotype of the Strong Black Woman. Doctors that will go beyond the bare minimum during a routine physical. Doctors that will investigate, ask deeper questions, risk getting all up in our business.
Doctors that will see and hear us.
This is why I fired all my non-BIPOC doctors. This is why I’m rooting for all the little black boys and girls even considering becoming doctors. This is why I’ve empowered myself by choosing all new BIPOC doctors.
This is why we need more Black doctors.