SSM Health Breast Surgeon wants to help get more black woman to be doctors

Megan Lynch, KMOX News
Photo credit Megan Lynch, KMOX News

ST. LOUIS - Only 5% of physicians in the United States are made of Black woman. One woman is hoping to change that with the help of her book.

Dr. Jovita Oruwari, Breast Surgeon at SSM Health DePaul, recently wrote her book 'Black Girls in White Coats' about the lack of black women in medicine.

Oruwari joined Total Information A.M. to discuss her book, along with the reason why so few black woman want to be doctors.

Oruwari says a big reason for the lack of representation from black woman comes from the community distrust of the medical community.

"There is a great level of distrust amongst African Americans in the medical field," said Oruwari, "This goes back years of history with things like the Tuskegee experiments where black men were used to experiment on syphilis."

Oruwari also says that visibility is also another reason why there's so many few black woman in the area.

"I really think we emulate and model things that we've seen," Oruwari said, "So if as a young child, I'm going to pediatricians and I never see any of them look like me. I don't even think it's a possibility. I don't think that's gonna happen. But I look at the TV and I see Beyoncé, Michael Jordan and they look like me. Oh, I can play ball. I can be a superstar because there are people like me that do that. But when you get to education, you don't see as many people do things like doctoring and lawyering, et cetera."

Oruwari says she does see much better outcomes when black patients see a black doctor versus another physician.

"I see on a regular basis for what I do as a breast cancer surgeon," Oruwari said, "My patients ask me specifically, 'are you going to refer me to a medical oncologist who is African American? Because you know, if they recommend chemo, I'm not gonna take it.'"

Oruwari said that in her book, she wanted to make sure if young black woman wanted a career as doctors, they should see the doctors in ways that aren't boring.

"People, especially young people are very image oriented. You know, you look at Instagram and some of the other social media that they're into, they want to see the, the glamour, they want to see the jewelry," said Oruwari, " So this was just a way of letting them know that you can do both. You can be professional and then you can also be glamorous."

Dr. Oruwari will be a part of the Arthur Gale Medical Arts lecture series at the Florrissant and Valarie branch of the St. Louis County Library on Sept. 6 to discuss her book.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Megan Lynch, KMOX News