Picture your doctor(s). Chances are they don't look like Stanford's Leah Backhus, MD, one of a small but growing number of black female physicians.
But hopefully, thanks to the work of Backhus and others, an increasing number of us will have a doctor that reflects the nation's diverse population. Backhus shared her story in a recent piece in the Mercury News, which celebrated female black physicians.
Now a cardiothoracic surgeon, Backhus decided as a sixth grader living in Los Angeles that she wanted to become a surgeon. She is committed to helping black women pursue and succeed in medicine. With other women of color, she cofounded the Artemis Medical Society to support women and girls interested in medical careers.
Backhus told the Mercury News:
I have benefited in a major way from people who don't look like me... But I have also seen a flood of relief when I have reached out to young surgeons in training who are infinitely grateful to have someone who does look like them.
Feedback on the article itself "has been surprising and humbling," Backhus emailed me. "So many people have said they have shared the story with a daughter, niece, cousin, school or community organization, so it's pretty special feel like you can make a positive impact not only on the lives of individual patients, but the next generation of doctors and our larger communities."
Previously: Doc McStuffins: A pint-sized inspiration for girls of all colors, Women of Stanford Neurosurgery: A conversation on gender, race and mentors and #Iamaphysician launched to showcase diversity in medicine
Image by Anna Louise