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From the Heart
November 10, 2021

Authenticity—An Uphill Battle for a Black Woman in Cardiology

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Medicine, Washington University in St Louis, St Louis, Missouri
JAMA Cardiol. 2022;7(1):9-10. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2021.4638

Just be yourself.

As a woman in cardiology, this is not so straightforward. Women have to constantly balance the dichotomy of warmth and competence. If you are warm, you are seen as less competent. If you are assertive, you are viewed as cold. How then, can you just be yourself?

I am a Black woman, a mother, and a cardiology fellow. Throughout my training, I have faced many challenges including sexism, racism, and prejudice in many forms. I also became a mother during an intensive part of my medical training. I resumed work in the intensive care unit 6 weeks post partum. This experience created layers of perspective for me and ironically, the challenges of being a new mother made the challenges of being a trainee seem less insurmountable. However, it also created another dimension of identity that I had to navigate.

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2 Comments for this article
Thanks for reminding everyone about the discrimination still occurring
Marsha Epstein | Retired LA County Public Health
Thank you. I graduated in 1969 when it was rare to see a woman physician. My female classmates experienced everything you described, except we were all White and none of us got pregnant or had kids while in med school or internship. My Public Health residency was at UC Berkeley so more women, but still all White. I'm so impressed by the way you've taken care of yourself and thank you for writing it up for publication.
Khalid Ebrahim | Internal Medicine/Pediatrics Physician at Unity Health Care DC
Thank you for sharing. It is inspiring to see how you have reframed your perspective instead of waiting on the world of medicine to change. I will share this piece with the many trainees in our program.