HISTORICALLY BLACK COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY (HBCU) ALUMNA TAMIA POTTER HAS BECOME VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY’S FIRST BLACK FEMALE NEUROSURGERY RESIDENT
After close to a century, Vanderbilt University’s neurosurgery residency program will have its first Black woman resident.
Tamia Potter is the first Black woman to accept a spot in the neurosurgery position at the university’s medical center in Nashville, Tennessee.
The 26-year-old received the news on March 17 – better known to medical students as National Match Day, when thousands of graduate medical students learn where they will do their residency training for the next several years.
Potter told CNN that she was incredulous when she first saw the match, and very relieved and excited to be entering the next chapter of her life after so many years of schooling.
“Everything that I’m doing, everything that I’m learning, everything that I experience is for the betterment of someone else,” Potter said.
Only about 5.7% of physicians in the United States identify as Black or African American, according to the the latest data from the Association of American Medical Colleges. And a 2019 report by the association found there were only 33 Black women in the neurosurgical field in the United States in 2018.
Vanderbilt trained its first neurosurgery resident in 1932, making Potter the first Black woman to join in 91 years, according to Dr. Reid Thompson, a professor and chair of the university’s Department of Neurological Surgery.
Thompson told CNN in a statement that he and his colleagues were immediately impressed by Potter’s “brilliance and passion for neurosurgery” when she visited the school last summer.
Potter graduated summa cum laude in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. The school was the highest-ranked public historically Black college or university in US News & World Report’s 2022-23 ranking.
She told CNN that being a FAMU alumna proves that it’s possible to go to an HBCU and “attain every single thing that you want to and make your dreams come true.”
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