Black MDs Shatter Stereotypes, Promote Diversity on Instagram

March 4, 2022 — Social media is applauded by many for connecting the world at the touch of a button. Others cite the opportunity to grow a business without spending a lot of money on marketing. But for a group of black doctors, social media is a chance to celebrate the ability to smooth out racial differences in medicine.

“You’re a young person in a city where you don’t see a single black doctor—before social media, you were sort of locked into your surroundings,” says Earl W. Campbell III, MD, gastroenterologist and advanced interventional physician. endoscopist from Atlanta.

“Now they can easily go to Instagram and see that there are doctors like them.”

Recently, a group of black doctors joined forces to host Diversity in Medicine Instagram livestreams.

Many are also millennials in highly competitive medical specialties. And are connected to the web through a shared “early start” experience, says Mfoniso Daniel Umoren, MD, a gastroenterology research fellow in Washington, D.C. Who started the Instagram series at the start of the pandemic.


“As our generation begins to understand what we want to do early, we’re going to go straight from college to medical school and do it in our 20s,” he says. By the age of 30, you are already a full-fledged medical specialist.

Umoren, 30, graduated from medical school at age 25 and will complete his fellowship in gastroenterology at Georgetown University next year.

“Seeing young doctors in training who are full of energy, motivated and also very interested in mentoring is something I wanted to connect people with and that’s why I started it,” he says.

IN 2018, only 5.4% of all U.S. doctors were black — a small percentage considering that blacks make up about 13% of the population. And there is a particularly high percentage of black doctors in competitive medical specialties. annoying; black representation in orthopedic surgery is the lowest (1.9%), followed by dermatology (3%).

Moreover, according to recent study at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The percentage of black male doctors has not changed since 1940, the report said. states.

But by showing doctors as “normal” with non-medical interests, Instagram Live sessions could help improve those stats, Umoren says.

“When you were growing up, often when you were a smart person, you were considered a nerd,” he says.

“I talk about it a lot because I am very interested in fitness. There is neither this nor that. You can be both.”

During the recent Instagram live session with Medscapedoctors discussed their experiences as black doctors and talked about ways to increase minority representation in medicine.

Read on for some key takeaways from discussion.

Weight on your shoulders

According to Marius Chukvur, MD, a board-certified internist and cardiologist in Philadelphia, there is a certain amount of pressure that is unique to black doctors in the US.

“There are so few of us blacks in medicine that you don’t want to do anything that could mess up that number or make that statistic even worse,” he says.

This pressure can affect how you navigate everyday life in the classroom or “whatever setting you are in,” he says.

“I felt it at every stage, especially in residency. [You feel as though] you can’t potentially dress a certain way, or talk a certain way, or be casual about certain things, as you might feel like most of your colleagues at work, in a learning environment, or in the medical field,” Chukvura says.

“You don’t want your employer or whoever is in charge of getting more people in and putting them in these places thinking, ‘This person wasn’t good at his job. This means that everyone who looks like him , should be the same. ”

The pressure won’t go away

People on social media often praise the “final product”. But don’t understand what you had to go through to get it, says Nathan Kaninda, MD, an ophthalmologist who specializes in oculoplastic surgery and facial aesthetics in Virginia.

He recalled a time when he became very ill during his medical training. He said he had to juggle trips to the emergency room with his work schedule.

“I didn’t tell anyone,” Kaninda says. “I think sometimes you’re in this fight to live and socialize. And you’re not being honest about what you’re really going through.”

“I became honest and was able to get care and do everything I needed to do.”

Kanyinda says he has learned over the years to prioritize mental health, noting that he makes time for self-care activities such as regular exercise.

This is very important at any stage of your medical career, he says, as the pressure won’t go away after you graduate.

“I’m in a city where there is [currently] maybe three people who do what I do,” Kaninda says. “Saying, ‘I have to be at the top of my game. I can’t be distracted. I have to focus – it will never go away.”

“Keep the pipeline smooth”

The group believes that in order to increase black representation in medicine, more black doctors should become educators.

“To achieve this goal, we must ensure that the conveyor runs smoothly,” says Umoren. “Some of us have to stay within the academic system.”

This is especially true since, according to Chukwur, one can “easily feel like a minority in medicine” by attending mostly white medical facilities.

There are only four historically black medical schools in the country: Morehouse Medical School, Howard University College of Medicine, Meharri Medical Collegeas well as Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.


“I wish you could take on a few professors from all of these HBCUs. [historically Black colleges and universities] and send them to medical schools across the country to serve as mentors for people like us who need extra motivation,” says Umoren.

“When you feel like you’re at the end of the road, someone might say, ‘I was there, just like you.’

Physicians say encouraging up-and-coming doctors who belong to underrepresented minorities is also critical.

“I know there aren’t that many black ophthalmologists,” Kaninda says. “Oculoplastic surgeons are not that many in general.”

“For me not to show people my world, I feel it is unfair. A lot of people showed me theirs,” he says.

Kanyinda says he allowed students to follow him at work, including in the operating room.

“I’m interested in having students work with me and be mentors from that point of view,” he says.

But mentoring doesn’t always have to include a full day of snooping, Campbell says. Sometimes it can be as simple as replying to an email.

“I know people who, when they were medical students, looked at their personal statements and edited them,” he says. “Now they are in residence.

“It’s great to see someone you’ve helped directly.”

“Finding this connection is important”

Umoren says the goal of Instagram Lives and other advocacy efforts is to create a “mentor-mentor” program in which black doctors of various specialties visit high schools and colleges and students can ask questions and connect.

The Association of Black Gastroenterologists and Hepatologists. A new organization created to improve gastrointestinal health in the Black community, has a similar plan.

The organization, which includes Campbell and Umoren, created program where medical students. And medical students interested in these specialties can contact a gastroenterologist or hepatologist.

“Finding that connection is very important,” says Umoren. “Making people feel like ‘this person really cares about me’ and ‘this person wants me to succeed.’

“Whether it’s a mentor-mentee relationship or a doctor-patient relationship.”

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