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Medicine and Society, Pediatrics

Doc McStuffins: A pint-sized inspiration for girls of all colors

Doc McStuffins: A pint-sized inspiration for girls of all colors

During the “moving on” ceremony at her preschool a few weeks ago, my daughter was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up. “A doctor and a mom,” was her answer – causing, of course, my heart to expand with pride. She has, in fact, been saying she wants to be a doctor (a pediatrician, specifically) since she was just a small tike, and her interest in medicine has intensified since her recent discovery of the Disney Channel’s “Doc McStuffins.”

My kids don’t watch a lot of TV, but I don’t at all mind their viewing this show, which features an 8-year-old “doctor” who diagnoses and treats her stuffed animals and other toys in a backyard medical clinic. (Most recently, Lambie the lamb needed to get stitches on her backside.)

Most kids are used to seeing female doctors these days – my girls’ pediatrician is female, and the last few specialists they’ve seen have been women – but I still think it’s very cool that the main character in this show is a girl (who wears a pink sparkly stethoscope!), and it’s her mom, not dad, who is the other doctor in the family. And there’s something else, as discussed in a recent Associated Press article, that has been resonating with viewers: the fact that this mini-MD is African-American. Lynn Elber writes:

For Dr. Myiesha Taylor, who watches Disney Channel’s “Doc McStuffins’’ with her 4-year-old, Hana, the show sends a much-needed message to minority girls about how big their ambitions can be.

“It’s so nice to see this child of color in a starring role, not just in the supporting cast. It’s all about her,’’ Taylor said. “And she’s an aspiring intellectual professional, not a singer or dancer or athlete.’’

According to the American Medical Association’s “Physician Characteristics and Distribution in the U.S., 2012 Edition,’’ there were 18,533 black female physicians in 2010, or less than 2 percent of a total of 985,375 U.S. doctors, including nearly 300,000 female physicians. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, blacks make up 12.3 percent of the population at about 40 million, with more than half of them women.

“When we made her an African-American girl, we hoped it would be a positive role model that wasn’t really out there and would be great for little girls,’’ said series creator Chris Nee, who said she was encouraged by Disney from the start to create Doc as a minority character. “What has been surprising is the strength of the reaction and that it’s from adults.’’

Previously: Hannah Valantine: Leading the way in diversifying medicine, PBS launches science program for young girl, Pretty in pink and Girl Power – to the Nobels, and beyond!
Photo by Danny McL

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