Monday, September 21, 2015


"A doctor’s memoir shows race matters in the hospital room" PBS NewsHour 9/15/2015


SUMMARY:  In medical school, Dr. Damon Tweedy says he learned about health problems being more common in the black community, but he didn’t hear the reasons why.  In “Black Man in a White Coat,” Tweedy examines racial disparities in medicine, for both patients and medical professionals.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  Being black can be bad for your health.

It’s a lesson Damon Tweedy writes in his new book, “Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine,” that he learned time and again in his own life and in his many years as a doctor.  Tweedy is a psychiatrist at Duke University, where he also attended medical school.

And welcome to you.

DR. DAMON TWEEDY, Author, Black Man in a White Coat:  Thank you.

JEFFREY BROWN:  So, you start with this big subject.  Is that what started it for you, that you wanted to write about?


So, race is this really highly charged political subject that we have in our society, obviously, but, for me, this is a very personal story.  This is really kind of about my experience and my journey.

All too often in medical school, you learn about health problems in the black community, you learn — you hear this disease is more common than this.  It’s always more common in black people, but you didn’t really hear why.  And so it wasn’t — and the question of why is a huge issue for me.

And there was also a big question about how my experience as a young black man was different than the experiences of other people in my class.

JEFFREY BROWN:  Well, that comes through, because you’re also saying that, as a young doctor in training, you’re saying constantly hearing about the medical frailties of black people picked at the scab of your insecurity.  You didn’t set out thinking about medicine and race.

DR. DAMON TWEEDY:  No, I was actually attracted to medicine.

It was sort of like this — it was almost like a post-racial kind of mind-set I had.  Medicine to me held it appeal to being objective, formulas, equations.  And it was really — and that was appealing.  So much of society is messy, and life is messy as a black person.  So this — it was this appeal that it could be objective.

And then, when I got to medical school, I kind of got a rude awakening that it wasn’t.

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