Black females, women surgeons are a minority among doctors

There are few black female physicians in the country, and they face some unique challenges.

Sometimes the biggest obstacle is just getting recognized as a doctor, according to a Medical Economics article.

Melanie Gordon, M.D., a doctor at the John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County in Chicago, recalls a patient who kept talking to her about Maryland because her ID said M.D., which he interpreted as the state abbreviation. “He’s in his hospital bed, and he sees me come in with my white coat on, and he could not fathom that I am a doctor,” she says.

Only 4% of physicians are African American, and that shrinks to only 2% when it comes to African American women, the article points out. Gordon says she and others have to get people to overlook their bias to even do their jobs.

She and other black women doctors are now working to encourage more black women to become physicians. They are participating in screenings of a new documentary film called “Black Women in Medicine” and sharing the book “Against All Odds: Celebrating Black Women in Medicine” at diversity events with young girls and their parents.

Another minority among physicians—women surgeons—are replicating a New Yorker magazine cover. The New Yorker featured an illustration that showed four female members of a surgical team looking down at a patient on an operating table. After it was released, Susan Pitt, an endocrine surgeon at the University of Wisconsin, challenged her fellow female surgeons to replicate the image. Her intent, the publication noted, was to bring visibility to the women and other minorities working in a traditionally white, male-dominated field, the article said.

Women surgeons from across the world have shared photos with the hashtage #ILookLikeASurgeon.