Uniquely Me

“She plays with you when you’ve got no one to play with.” Those words were used to describe a young girl in a Sunday school class many years ago.

The adult equivalent of “not having anyone to play with” might be the experience of being in the minority.

Being a black female physician in the US, I am no stranger to this. It seems like I have been “in the minority” for the majority of my life. Those who don’t know me may be surprised to hear that I experienced “minority status” even while growing up in Nigeria. Not only was

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Being Alienated Can Be A Catalyst for Improvement

Starting pre-med in 1948, my intention in becoming a physician was to learn how to be a healer. To learn how to relieve pain and suffering.

At that time, medical education viewed the physician’s role as a mechanic. Physicians were mechanics who fixed a malfunctioning machine: the human body.

My medical school professors “trained” us to be objective, to view patients through their separate parts, and never to view patients as  persons. With the benefit of hindsight and the autopsy table to uncover the pathology, they viewed the “local medical doctor” and “the local hospital” as second-rate.

My medical school

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My First (and Only) Day in the ER…

It was the first day of a course in medical ethics at the University of Vermont medical school. As a graduate student in public administration, I had been invited to sit in on the class because of my research interest in health care distributional ethics. That made me the only student in the room who wasn’t training to be a physician.

I entered the classroom and took a seat. I barely had time to say hello to a couple of other students before the professor walked in.

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Saturday night in my living room, I was surrounded by the parents of the children in my daughter’s kindergarten class. I had boldly offered to host a parent social. We were playing Two Truths and a Lie, one of my favorite icebreakers. My turn had come, and I shared three statements. One of my truths was that my daughters were intentionally born at home. Immediately everyone declared this as the lie, joking that I asked for an epidural as soon as I arrived at the hospital. I understood that no one knew me, yet I was thrown by this gross

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Why Won’t You Ask Me, Too?

The Brooklyn Bridge and the water running beneath it shimmered in the evening sunlight as I gazed out the window of my  Pace University classroom. Class had just gotten over, and my classmates were making plans to go out for a drink and unwind. Snippets of conversation reached my ears as I gathered up my books and unplugged my computer.

“What about Esther? Shall we ask her?”

“Oh, no! She is Catholic, Indian, and married. She wouldn’t come!”

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Existing on the Outside

My ninety-year-old friend gets her hair styled weekly, goes out to dinner often, and invites friends into her home—all during the pandemic. A fifty-year-old friend rented a local movie theater to entertain his friends and himself, held an ice cream social under a gazebo to memorialize his mother (herself a big fan of the icy treat), and spends most evenings at a local pub—all during the pandemic. A close friend is patiently waiting for me to give a thumbs-up to a get-together. More and more people are embracing the freedom of vaccinated life by returning to a somewhat pre-COVID normalcy.

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An Editor’s Invitation: Being in the Minority

Dear Pulse readers,
In this country one associates the word “minority” with a skin color that’s different from some shade of pale.
Recent events and the Black Lives Matter movement have underscored the fact that being a Black, brown or Asian person in the US entails more risk, more hurdles, and more daily affronts and assaults than had been previously acknowledged.
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