What Should A Doctor Look Like?

The white coat and doctor credentials aren’t enough for some people to “recognize” a Black doctor. Dr. Meena K. Singh shares the reality and frustrations of being a physician of color. 

Meena Singh MD

As everyone can see from my photo; I am a young, female doctor…of color. Mocha-brown to be exact. Throughout my training, myself and other female doctors of color have exchanged stories of patients and other staff not realizing we were physicians or making inappropriate and sometimes abusive remarks.
Recently, some of my ‘sister-doc’ colleagues candidly shared similar, typical stories of what they continue to experience, which is what inspired me to write this article. Try to control the dismissive head shakes as you read:
“Walk in to see a new patient. After introducing myself,  he said, “Well. I went from a [nurse] to a n—-r. You know what you doing girl?”
“Patient revived after cardiac arrest. While asking orientation questions (What’s your name? Where are you?) She was asked who’s the president. She said “a n—–r like my doctor””
“5 [year old] white male in for a well-child tells me to put on gloves because he doesn’t want dirty on his skin. This is after washing my hands. His mother attempts to cover it up, but he said “but you and daddy say all black people are dirty””
“Yesterday I walked into a patients’ room and said “Hello I am doctor —“, He then asked “are you a doctor?”, I responded “I am DOCTOR —, How can I help you?”
“I love the initial look when you walk in the room and how much they LOVE LOVE LOVE you when you walk out:)!”
“When I took a job in industry, my boss started to notice that the immediate response to the intro was “Is this your new admin?”…when I was an intern at Grady, a drunk white dude demanded to talk to the charge nurse… “someone who knows more than YOU!!!”

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