We are back with another Minority Physician Spotlight. Multiple studies have shown that minorities prefer and open up more to minority physicians. This recurring series will profile a minority physician as we chat about their motivations as a physician and their thoughts on bioethics. Check out this week’s doctor below!
Name: Dr. Nicole Haughton
Medical School: University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
Residency Program: Loma University Children’s Hospital
Current Location: Huntsville, AL
Why did you want to become a doctor?
Being a physician, and specifically a pediatrician, is the only job I remember ever wanting to do. I’m truly not sure where that desire stemmed from. There was no physician for me to model or to be inspired by. It’s just something I said, and because I’m stubborn I stuck to it. Over time I began to see how being a pediatrician provided the opportunity to positively influence the lives of others at a stage where it mattered the most – childhood. That realization solidified my decision.
What does it mean to you to be a minority physician?
For me being a minority physician is a privilege. Despite perceived improvements in opportunities available to minority groups in this country, the number of physicians of color is not consistent with the country’s racial demographic. At last check, only approximately 6% of physicians were black. For me to be a part of that group; especially as an immigrant from humble beginnings; is something I take pride in and don’t take for granted. I also understand that with that privilege comes the responsibility to encourage and support students as they seek to join these ranks. There is also the responsibility to do my job well because I’m representing so much more than myself. There’s an underlying pressure to do a good job, because you always wonder in the back of your mind if your mistakes or shortcomings as a physician will be attributed to your race.
Above that, for me being a physician is a reminder of God’s faithfulness. Everyday I get to wake up and do the one job I’ve wanted to do my whole life. To me that is a huge deal! To think that I prayed for this, dreamt for this, worked hard for this and it actually happened! That is an amazing thing.
What makes bioethics important to minorities?
Tuskegee. Henrietta Lacks. Elaine Riddick. If not for any other group, bioethics is of extreme importance to minorities, both racial minorities and socioeconomic minorities. Just a cursory literature search will reveal that the poor, uneducated, and under-represented (in any sense of the word) are those who often find themselves on the negative side of a bioethical dilemma. This is why it’s important for healthcare professionals to represent the population at large and not just specific groups. Bioethics is important to minorities both for those who partake of healthcare services and those of us, who are blessed to serve as providers. Only when all groups are well represented in the provider role will there be some noticeable change in healthcare delivery and a decrease in healthcare disparities.
Do you have any advice for minorities inserting themselves into the healthcare system?
For patients: Though conditioned to assume a subservient role, always remember that you are in charge of your health. Ask questions. If something isn’t clear, ask that it be explained until it is clear. If you’re not happy with your doctor find another one. Give your doctor the benefit of the doubt, regardless of race or other perceived differences. There are caring practitioners of minority AND majority racial groups who wake up everyday with the goal of best serving you and your family. Allow them to do so.
For budding physicians: Work hard. Do more than is expected of you. Remember that others have fought with their lives for the opportunities you have, so do not take them for granted. Pay homage to their sacrifice by doing the best you can with the opportunities you have been given.
I hope you all enjoyed this week’s Minority Physician Spotlight and found it helpful! If you would like to contact Dr. Haughton, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. See you all next time!
The Neighborhood Bioethicist
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