Meredith College welcomed Damon Tweedy, a physician and author, for its Spring 2021 Convocation, which was held virtually on February 25, 2021.
The presentation, “A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine,” built on Tweedy’s New York Times bestselling book, Black Man in a White Coat, a memoir of his experience grappling with race, bias, and the unique health problems of Black Americans.
Tweedy was originally scheduled to speak at Meredith in March 2020, but his visit was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During this talk, Tweedy discussed health disparities, how race affects medical school training, and ideas on how to mitigate the impact of racism and bias on healthcare.
Tweedy reflected on how the events of 2020, including data that showed Black people were more likely to be affected by the coronavirus, had “put a magnifying glass on issues that had long existed.”
A graduate of Duke University School of Medicine, Tweedy is an associate professor of psychiatry at Duke University School of Medicine and staff physician at the Durham Veterans Affairs Health System.
He shared examples from his own medical training, including that students would be told that a certain disease is more common in Black people, without offering any context or reasoning.
“The biggest change since my medical school experience is that medical students are now more inclined toward social justice and are pushing for change,” Tweedy said. “This gives me the greatest optimism that things will improve.”
In addition to his memoir, Tweedy has published articles about race and medicine in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and The News & Observer.
One of the topics he has written about recently is how to mend the doctor/patient trust gap.
“We have to have a sense of humility when we approach someone who is different from us [in a medical setting],” Tweedy said. “We need to understand that person’s story in the context of larger issues.”
Making change in one’s own sphere of influence is one of Tweedy’s recommendations.
“Never lose sight of our capacity of individuals to do things that help and that effect change,” Tweedy said.
The convocation was sponsored by the Meredith College Convocation Committee. The public lecture was followed by a virtual reception that allowed students, faculty, and others to ask questions of Tweedy.