During Black History Month we reflect on the important leadership Black individuals past and present have contributed to the field of medicine. Each week we are spotlighting prominent members of the Doximity network. Each interview sheds light on the unique experiences these physicians face in medicine today as well as the amazing work they are trailblazing. This week we are interviewing Amber Robins, MD, MBA; Board certified in Family Medicine and Lifestyle Medicine; Co-Founder of Women in White Coats; Owner, Sanxtuary MD; Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Graduate Medical Education Office at Rochester Regional Health. Learn more about her and her perspective on Black History Month in medicine.
How does Black history influence your life as a physician?
Black history has allowed me to know that I can do anything that I put my mind to. It allows me to reflect on the hardships and the triumphs we have gained as a people. It also helps me reflect on how far we still need to come. I believe that knowing black history keeps me focused on my role in the advancement of African Americans.
Why is it important to you that we celebrate Black History Month in medicine?
Black history is my history. When celebrating Black History Month it acknowledges not only what we have contributed to medicine, but also our role in shaping our country. Unfortunately, a lot of our history as African Americans has been buried for decades. Much of what we reflect on during Black History month focuses on our resilience as a people escaping slavery or being leaders in the civil rights movement. Black history is even more than that. I come from a people who were inventors, trailblazers, royalty, business owners, and so much more.
Unfortunately, a lot of our history as African Americans has been buried for decades. Much of what we reflect on during Black History month focuses on our resilience as a people escaping slavery or being leaders in the civil rights movement. Black history is even more than that.
What has your journey been like as a Black physician?
Being a black physician has not been easy for me. It can be difficult to be one of the few African Americans within medical school, residency, and now as a practicing attending. I do get joy when my patients say that I am the first Black doctor who has been over their care. However, I do hope that comments like this are fewer and fewer as we advance in getting more African Americans in medicine.
What can we do to support Black individuals pursuing or interested in medicine?
Mentoring and being sponsors is key for more black individuals to pursue medicine. There are certain bench marks that medical schools want you to reach in order to be admitted. Being able to have a mentor or being part of mentoring programs, can be helpful in learning ways to meet and exceed those benchmarks. Having a sponsor is also essential. This person would speak on your behalf when you are not in the room. For me, this has led to great opportunities and promotions that I would otherwise not been afforded.
Are there any organizations you would like to highlight?
The Student National Medical Association is a great organization that has helped me in many ways. From networking to assisting me with research, the SNMA is truly a great resource for medical and pre-medical students.
Additionally, historically black colleges and institutions (HBCUs) have a strong tradition in helping African Americans all over the country in getting into medical school. Xavier University of Louisiana, my alma mater, played a key role in preparing me for medical school. It is important for young people to consider these schools as options for their advancement in the medical field.