In The News

ABWP Physicians are in the media. Check out some of our press releases, newspaper highlights and videos.

Breaking The Silence: Hypertension In Our Community

Dr. Ana Lopes Johnson MD


Oghene 'Thank You'

Oghene Health Fair_6-2017

The ‘Invisible White Coat': Black Women in Medicine

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Early in Black History Month, on February 8, a documentary aired on American public television for the first time. Black Women in Medicine , directed by Connecticut filmmaker Crystal R. Emery, chronicles how, across 3 centuries, black American women have surmounted heavy odds to succeed in a profession dominated by white men.These pioneers include Rebecca Lee Crumpler, who in 1864 became the first black woman to graduate from medical school, as well as modern “firsts,” such as Jocelyn Elders, MD, the first black US surgeon general, and Claudia Thomas, MD, the first black female orthopedic surgeon.

Young recent graduates entering the profession of their dreams also tell their inspiring stories in the film.Five years in the making, the $800,000 documentary took its original inspiration from Emery’s 2011 meeting with New York pediatrician Doris Wethers, MD, who changed the life expectancy of people with sickle cell anemia, and later with other older black female physicians.”I thought someone should tell the stories of these phenomenal women who did not allow race, gender or economics to deter them from their dreams,” Emery told Medscape Medical News.Despite the achievement of such trailblazers, last October, the country was treated to an unwelcome example of enduring prejudice against black women physicians when a Delta flight attendant disdainfully rejected help for a stricken passenger from Tamika Cross, MD, a 28-year-old Houston obstetrician.

The woman called into question Dr Cross’s medical credentials, but unhesitatingly accepted assistance from an older white male doctor.f that sort of view still exists among some people as we near the third decade of the 21st century, pause to consider the hurdles black women doctors faced decades ago.One such physician is retired Los Angeles obstetrician- gynecologist Carole Jordan-Harris, MD, who grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and entered medical school in 1976 at the University of California, Irvine, as a single mother of three.Even some of her friends and relatives had doubted she could fulfill her childhood dream of becoming a physician, and though a frequent patient in doctors’ offices, she had only ever seen one African American doctor, and he was a man. “I had no role models,” she told Medscape Medical News. But the real test came when she entered medical school at the University of California, after earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at a black university. “Irvine was a very white, very discriminatory area,” she recalled.The main problem was the faculty. “They really didn’t hold their tongues about not being excited about seeing African-American students there, and particularly females.” One professor accused her of taking up a place in medical school that his nephew could have had.Now retired from practice from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, she still winces at the nonrecognition accorded a black female doctor.

“I would walk into the exam room with my white coat and stethoscope, and the patient might say, ‘When is the doctor coming?’ I called it my invisible white coat!”And in her waiting room, which was decorated with several pieces of African art, more than one new patient asked the receptionist if the doctor was black. “When the answer was yes, she would take her co-payment and leave,” Dr Jordan-Harris recalled, with a laugh.Obstetrics and gynecology was still very much a male domain in the 1970s, she added. “I was the wrong gender in the wrong specialty and I was repeatedly told that ob/gyn was a man’s specialty.” There was a systemic bias against female residents: they couldn’t stand the rigors of surgery, the long hours attending labor and delivery, and the late-night crises. “They were determined to allow no excuses for female residents even if they were pregnant or ill. They still had to work long hours and race down the hall for a code blue,” said Dr Jordan-Harris. “I think they thought we wouldn’t last and they were rougher on us.”Others were irked by the growing preference for female physicians. “Some women would say, ‘I’ll wait to see the lady doctor,’ ” Dr Jordan-Harris recalled.Racism or Sexism?And although Dr Jordan-Harris experienced both racism and sexism, the latter seemed the more pervasive, she said.

When she did her residency at Martin Luther King, Jr/Charles R. Drew Medical Center in Los Angeles, she found the largely African American faculty was just as hard on women trainees as white professors were at Irvine.In agreement with Dr Jordan-Harris is Patricia E. Bath, MD, a distinguished Harlem, New York-born ophthalmologist who trained at Howard University in Washington, DC, and at Columbia University in New York City. “Of the twin arrows of sexism and racism, sexism has been more ferocious. At UCLA privileges were given to my male counterparts that were not given to me before — and are still not now,” the now retired ophthalmologist said.In 1973, Dr Bath became the first female African American doctor to complete an ophthalmology residency at New York University, and later became UCLA’s first female faculty member in ophthalmology. She also has the distinction of being the first female African American doctor to receive a medical patent, in her case for a laser probe used in cataract surgery.To stave off the hostility, a young black woman physician needed intense concentration and strong psychological defenses.

“You couldn’t let the ignorant remarks weight you down. You had to tell yourself you were better than that, you were above them — which was not hard to do if you had a passion,” Dr Jordan-Harris said.But there was the occasional unexpected show of support. Dr Jordan-Harris recalled an older white male attending doctor who never deigned to address her during her medical training. “All he did was glare at me in silence and he seemed angry that I was even there,” she said. After she assisted the man in a long, difficult surgery, he pulled her aside. “He said he’d been observing me and I had what it took to be a good surgeon, which in his opinion was the eyes of an eagle, the heart of a lion, and the hands of a woman,” she said. “I was so blown away.

That kept me going through the difficult situation at Irvine.”Her taciturn teacher’s remark about the manual dexterity of women echoes one made in Emery’s documentary by orthopedic surgeon Dr Thomas, who says, “My mother was a seamstress and she taught me to sew very well, so I knew I could stitch up a body better than any man.”Stinting positive feedback from faculty and their low expectations of performance from black female physicians were a source of irritation for otolaryngologist/head and neck surgeon Othella T. Owens, MD, who graduated from the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia, in 1978, and also became the first black female in her residency program at UCLA.”Later, when I left a faculty position after a year because I felt I gave more than I got, the department chair said he didn’t realize I was going to be so good. Go figure,” she told Medscape Medical News. Diana Swift February 27, 2017 The ‘Invisible White Coat': Black Women in Medicine

ABWP Charity Benefit & Scholarship 10/1/2016

Pat Harvey and Dr. Coombs Share Words of Advice
as ABWP Celebrates 35 Years of Service

Los Angeles, CA- Uplifted guests and grateful scholarship recipients gathered to celebrate the Association of Black Women Physicians’ 35th Annual Charity and Scholarship Benefit held at the JW Marriott-L.A.LIVE on October 1, 2016. The atmosphere was eloquent and warm with KJLH’s host Adai Lamar as Mistress of Ceremony and a welcome by ABWP President Dr. Valencia Walker who acknowledged the numerous founding members who were present. The event was meticulously chaired by Dr. Ana Lopes Johnson.

CBS2 Emmy award winning co-anchor Pat Harvey received the Humanitarian of the Year Award for her commitment to promoting healthy communities.She has reported and testified on Pap smear errors, breast cancer, domestic violence and other issues that affect all women, especially women of color. Her role and journey follow her advice to “pursue your true passion and you will be successful”.

Dr. Alice Tolbert Coombs was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for breaking diversity barriers in the medical profession. She is a critical care specialist and an anesthesiologist, the current and first African American woman President of the New England Medical Association and Past-President of the Massachusetts Medical Society. She began her journey in Compton, CA, received her medical degree from UCLA and followed her own advice to “listen to the environment around you and make a difference in someone else’s life. Healthcare disparities persist”.

ABWP gave special recognition to The Diamond in the RAW Foundation for transforming the lives of foster care and at-risk teen girls. The invocation was reverently delivered by Efe Chantal Ghanney a Yale graduate and senior medical student rotating in Los Angeles for advanced training.

Dr. LaTanya Hines, ABWP Scholarship Chair, presented eight outstanding medical students with very competitive scholarships. The recipients are Bianca Carson, Kindred Harris, Tamandra Morgan, Maureen Nwaokoro, Ozioma Obiwuru, Etuajie Oiyemhonian, Adia Scrubb and Shannon Sullivan.

Special guests in attendance included State Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, LA City Councilmember Curren Price, Medical Board of California member Jamie Wright, JD, Charles R. Drew Medical Society President Dr. Anne Staveren, Miller-Lawrence Medical Dental Society President Dr. Lemon McMillan, American Heart Association Regional Director Tiffany McDaniel and many other distinguished guests who traveled from all parts of the United States.

This memorable evening was perfected throughout with musical performances by internationally recognized Crystal Penny. This Star Gala truly celebrated ABWP’s spectacular past and illuminated a brighter future.

About ABWP- Founded in 1982, the non-profit Association of Black Women Physicians consistently has addressed the health and wellness of underserved communities and the physicians who care for them. These volunteers conduct community health education workshops,advocate medical legislative issues,serve as mentors and raise scholarship funds for deserving medical students. ABWP is the 2016 California Outstanding Ethnic Physician Organization as designated by the California Medical Association Foundation.

ABWP & BWL end of life discussion 5/6/2016

ABWP & BWL end of life discussion

ABWP Breast Cancer Event 10/22/2015

ABWP Breast Cancer Event


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Community with Me with Melissa Sandfield Interview highlighted the work of The Association of Black Women Physicians. 11/12/2014

“Community with Me” segment 1/28/15.

ABWP Spreads Message of Health & Wellness to Community

Most people desire good health, but not everyone practices it. The Association of Black Women Physicians (ABWP) hopes to change that behavior by spreading a message of physical health and wellness.

Since its founding in 1982, ABWP has served the community through educational programs, mentorships, advocacy and philanthropic outreach.

“We have four signature programs,” explained Dr. Valencia Walker, ABWP president. “Our Wellness Series features workshops, offered in English and Spanish, designed to help people understand the ‘basics’ about health.

“The ABWP Speaker’s Bureau is available to organizations that request a physician expert to address health and medicine topics. …

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ABWP Leader, Dr. Valencia Walker speaks on childhood health issues on Aspire TV.

ABWP Shines light on HIV/AIDS epidemic at the Black Dolls Show in Los Angeles, February 2016.

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Story and Photos by Tom Nguyen

Last month, December 12th was the opening of the 35th Annual Black Doll Show at the William Grant Still Arts Center. The annual tradition, started in 1980 at the West Adams community center, was inspired by the “Black Doll Test” in the 1940s, which showed many African-American children preferring to play with white dolls over black dolls. The center’s website says “positive self image is just as necessary for Africans and all people of color within the continent and in diaspora” and the annual show is just as relevant and important as ever, pointing to a doll test that had the same results in 2005, as documented by then 16yo student filmmaker Kiri Davis in her film A Girl Like Me.

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Changing the Face of Medicine

Changing the Face of Medicine tells the stories of Black women doc-tors by following their journeys from inequality to excel-lence. Changing the Face of Medicine will act as an agent of social change and inspire a new generation of doctors of all races and genders.

The project and has been described by Filmmaker Bill Duke as an “educational and artistic tour de force.” ABWP Physicians are highlighted in the book.

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Our Awards

  • Staggers AwardPDF
  • NEPO: Black Women For Wellness Award, “Waangari Maathai Leadership Award”