Patients Need Doctors Who Look Like Them. Can Medicine Diversify Without Affirmative Action?
DETROIT (AP) Dr. Starling Tolliver knew she wanted to become a doctor. Yet, as a Black girl growing up in Akron, Ohio, it was a dream that felt out of reach.
She rarely saw doctors who looked like her. As a child, she experienced severe hair loss, and struggled to find a dermatologist who could help.
Tolliver made a pact with two childhood best friends to become doctors who would care for Black and underserved communities like their own. Now 30, she is in her final year of dermatology residency at Wayne State University in Detroit.
She plans to spend her career caring for the bodys largest organ, where differences in melanin give humans the skin colors underpinning the construct of race. In dermatology, only 3% of U.S. doctors are Black.
Despite her success, the girls' pact remains unfulfilled. While her friend Charmaine became a nurse, Maria, who wanted to become a pediatrician, was killed in their hometown at the age of 19.
Her friend's death only strengthened her resolve.