He recounts his experiences during his internship year through the lens of dealing with prejudiced patients (Chapter 5, ‘Confronting Hate’), prejudiced doctors (Chapter 6, ‘When Doctors Discriminate’), and prejudice against the LGBTQ community (Chapter 7, ‘The Color of HIV/AIDS’). The most compelling section of the memoir is Part II: Barriers, in which Tweedy shifts the focus of the memoir from the role of race on people’s health to the role of race in the practice of medicine. As Tweedy transforms from student to practicing physician, he discovers how often race influences his encounters with patients.
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Chapters 9 (‘Doing the Right Thing’) and 10 (‘Beyond Race’) talk about counseling patients and making good choices as equitably as possible within the American healthcare system. These elements take on greater meaning when Tweedy finds himself diagnosed with a chronic disease far more common among black people. Black Man in a White Coat fills an important gap in the conversation about race within medicine. If you haven't done so already, please create a new password here.
My reaction troubled me’ (99).
Equally demoralizing were the negative racial attitudes that Tweedy, who grew up in a segregated working-class community in Maryland, recalls and the slights he experienced firsthand—even from the faculty at the august Duke University School of Medicine. Or was it the many ways in which I’d been indoctrinated by both black and white people, throughout my life, to see poor blacks as inferior and susceptible to so many problems?
Others have asserted that the use of race in medicine reflects the complicated history of race in the United States. Making matters worse, in lecture after lecture the common refrain for numerous diseases resounds, "More common in blacks than whites." Tweedy writes, ‘I couldn’t get out of my mind how I’d been treated as two entirely different patients.
Black Man in a White Coat is a commentary on challenges and lessons [Dr. Tweedy has] encountered as a physician of color, offering first-hand truths about the medical issues and racial divides in health care plaguing our community.” —Ebony NPR's Linda Wertheimer speaks to him about how the medical field addresses race. However, if we are to engage in meaningful dialogue about race and how it impacts medicine, we would be wise to take a page from Dr. Tweedy’s book and reflect.
Black Man in a White Coat reflects qualities that I personally would want in a physician; it is well-researched, engaging, emotionally honest, and introspective.
His goal for Black Man in a White Coat was to ‘paint a fuller picture of the experiences of black patients, as well as that of the black doctors who navigate between the black community and the predominately white medical world’ (7). In acknowledging the complex interactions of several parts of his identity, Tweedy nuances the discussion about race and medicine; instead of race and medicine intersecting at one discrete point, they are deeply and intricately enmeshed. In Chapter 2, ‘Baby Mamas,’ Tweedy explores the complex interactions of health disparities though the stories of black mothers Tweedy met as a second-year medical student. Though the prose is simple rather than sparkling, I found this book to be a very accessible and essential read.
Part III: Perseverance documents Dr. Tweedy’s experiences as a practicing psychiatrist. Describing his experiences as student and doctor in a new memoir, Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine, Tweedy also learned that he had high blood pressure and had already incurred mild kidney damage—two of the most vexing health problems facing blacks. For example, upon encountering and making assumptions about a man on the street, Tweedy writes, ‘Was it my medical training that caused me to see him as a list of potential health problems rather than as an individual? His book adds an important new voice on the shameful disparities that continue to afflict American medicine. Tweedy writes with admirable honesty about his own racial and social biases and shows how his evolving views inform his work with patients. As Tweedy transforms from student to practicing physician, he discovers how often race influences his encounters with patients. Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church, Podcast: Jaimal Yogis, Author and Soulful Surfer, Podcast: Sue Stuart-Smith on the Well-Gardened Mind, Health Expert Patricia Bragg on the Miracle of Fasting, The Gift of Failure: Tips on Transforming Setbacks into Success, Everything Is Spiritual: The New Audiobook by Bestselling Author Rob Bell, How to Mourn the Death of a Loved One in the Times of Social Distancing and COVID-19, The Right Mindset to Conquer and Thrive With Gluten and Other Food Allergies. Painful metaphors: enactivism and art in qualitative research, Bibliotherapy in practice: a person-centred approach to using books for mental health and dementia in the community, Representing young mens experience of anorexia nervosa: a French-language case study, Saudades de ser nihonjin: Japanese-Brazilian identity and mental health in literature and media, The illness-disease dichotomy and the biological-clinical splitting of medicine, Analysis and discussion of research | Updates on the latest issues | Open debate, All BMJ blog posts are published under a CC-BY-NC licence.
These issues take on greater meaning when Tweedy is himself diagnosed with a chronic disease far more common among black people. Describing his experiences as student and doctor in a new memoir, Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine, Tweedy also learned that he had high blood pressure and had already incurred mild kidney damage—two of the most vexing health problems facing blacks. In Black Man in a White Coat Dr. Tweedy uses clinical anecdotes and stories from his own experiences as a patient to highlight inequities in healthcare training, access, and delivery. Working alongside mostly white teachers and students, Tweedy sees how the assumptions even well-meaning providers hold about minority patients and the judgments they make about them can lead to differences in treatment. Tweedy draws from his experiences and his self-reflections and uses this perspective in order to help others be better caregivers.
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