Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflection on Race and Medicine. Damon Tweedy, M.D.

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September 19, 2015

I was excited to read this personal account of race in the medical profession, and it did not disappoint. Dr.Tweedy, a Duke-trained psychiatrist, discusses his experiences from medical school through his training in a white-dominated system. He discusses both his class- and race-based insecurities, being less financially advantaged than his peers. He reviews the disparities in health care access and quality for poor minorities, and disturbingly related several experiences of his own being treated as a second-class citizen even while a medical professional. He spends a good bit of time looking at the way physicians and patients each discriminate in their own way, and how he fell into that trap himself.

He reminded me of when, after a grueling month of internship on a busy internsive care unit, a man and his wife (both attorneys) told me they had thought all month that I was the candy striper, because I was so short and young looking. Never mind that I wore a long coat,a stethoscope, and regularly examined him and adjusted the setting on his respirator. Obviously not as painful as someone presuming I was less competent because of the color of my skin, but still something I’ve never forgotten.

Towards the end of this book, Tweedy addresses how little lifestyle changes are addressed with poor black patients, as it is assumed that these interventions are futile. His work is meticulously cited, movingly described, deeply personal, and important in its message. I heartily recommend it to both the medical and lay community, as well as thoughtful people from both sides of the political aisle.

Editor’s Note: As you can see from the picture above, several physicians from our group went to Dr. Damon Tweedy’s Book Signing at Politics and Prose. Dr. Jattu Senesie, one of Lady Docs Corner Cafe’s bloggers, standing to the right of Dr. Tweedy, is one of his best friends from college. They attended University of Maryland Baltimore Campus. It’s a small world!