Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor's Reflections on Race and Medicineby Damon Tweedy
Published on September 8th 2015
When Damon Tweedy begins medical school,he envisions a bright future where his segregated, working-class background will become largely irrelevant. Instead, he finds that he has joined a new world where race is front and center.
Black Man in a White Coat examines the complex ways in which both black doctors and patients must navigate the difficult and often contradictory terrain of race and medicine. As Tweedy transforms from student to practicing physician, he discovers how often race influences his encounters with patients. Through their stories, he illustrates the complex social, cultural, and economic factors at the root of many health problems in the black community.
Damon Tweedy was offered a full scholarship to medical school at Duke University in North Carolina in the 1990s.Â That was a deal too good to pass up even though it was well known that Duke had a history of being extremely racist.Â Early in his time at Duke a professor mistakes him for a maintenance man and when he says that he isn’t there to fix the lights the professor can’t figure out any other reason why he should be in the classroom.Â This spurs him to work even harder to prove that he belongs there.
He is frustrated because over and over in lectures he hears that diseases are more common in blacks than whites.Â He worries that frustrating interactions with black patients will turn his white coworkers against black people.
He tells stories about what it is like to be both a black doctor and a black patient.
He talks about volunteer work at a clinic for the uninsured and whether or not the Affordable Care Act could help these people.Â He had always assumed that people were uninsured because they didn’t work before helping at this clinic.Â That’s a pet peeve of mine.Â I’ve had this argument with my middle to upper middle class family members who were against universal healthcare and who have always had jobs that offered insurance.Â I’m a veterinarian.Â Until July 1 of this year when my practice was bought by a large corporation, I’ve never had a job that offered health insurance.Â At least I could afford to buy it when I wasn’t married.Â Most of my coworkers who make just above minimum wage didn’t have any health insurance.Â Most of them still aren’t opting to get the available insurance now because it is very expensive with huge deductables.Â /rant
He talks about how he was treated as a black man in sweats and a tshirt with a knee injury and how his treatment changed when he revealed that he was a doctor.
Should doctors be discussing sterilization with a drug addicted woman who just miscarried?
How do you deal with patients who don’t want to have a doctor of a different race than them?
How does poverty and cultural attitudes tie into poor health in the black community?