This week’s #WCWinSTEM is Dr. Tamika K. Cross, Resident Physician in Obstetrics and Gynecology.
As compiled by Chrystelle Vilfranc
Today, our #WCWinSTEM feature is dedicated to Dr. Tamika Cross who is currently a resident physician in Obstetrics and Gynecology at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). Let’s review a few of her credentials, as they are rather important. Dr. Cross received her B.S. in Brain Behavior and Cognitive Science from the University of Michigan. She then attended Meharry Medical College, where she completed her M.D. in 2013. She’s pretty qualified.
Looking the Part
You may be familiar with Dr. Cross’s recent flight experience, if not, I’ve got you covered. A couple of weekends ago, Dr. Cross found herself on Delta’s flight DL945 out of Detroit. Many might agree that we are not often thinking of the possibilities of a medical emergency taking place on the flight, but it does happen. While on this flight, a man only a few seats in front of Dr. Cross became unresponsive. His wife yelled for help. Dr. Cross naturally went into physician mode as she began to stand to make her way up. Before she could see tend to the situation, a flight attendant stopped her and said, “Everyone stay calm; it’s just a night terror—he is alright.” As the physician that she is, while Dr. Cross monitored the situation from her seat, the man became unresponsive again. This time, the flight attendant announced for a physician onboard to assist with the situation. Dr. Cross raised her hand to notify the flight attendant that she is a physician, not expecting the response she received:
“Oh no sweetie, put your hand down. We are looking for actual physicians and nurses or some type of medical personnel. We don’t have time to talk to you.”
Dr. Cross tried to inform the flight attendant that she was a physician and was repeatedly interrupted with other condescending remarks. Another call on the overhead was made, requesting for a physician on board to press their call button. When she did, the flight attendant responded, “Oh wow! You’re an actual physician? Let me see your credentials? What type of doctor are you? Where do you work? Why were you in Detroit?” Dr. Cross responds quickly, entertaining the questions to move the process along as her patient is still in need: “OBGYN; work in Houston; in Detroit for a wedding, but believe it or not THEY DO HAVE doctors in Detroit. Now, excuse me so I can help the man in need.” #BAWSE
See it is tradition at Meharry Medical College (and other medical school) graduations for the graduates to take the Hippocratic Oath. I want to include a part of the oath that our lovely #WCWinSTEM was abiding by:
“I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.
May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.”
Before Dr. Cross could get past the flight attendant blocking her row, a “seasoned” white male approached, stating that he was a physician, as well. Immediately the flight attendant says to Dr. Cross, “Thanks for your help, but he can help us and he has his credentials.” Dr. Cross, in her Facebook status, recalls the other physician never presented any form of confirmation of his credentials. She describes it best, stating that he simply “showed up and fit the ‘description of a doctor.'”
Cross found herself angry about the situation, although thankful that around this time, the man is becoming responsive again. However, a few minutes later, the same flight attendant returned to Dr. Cross asking her for her input. To this, Cross advises that they check his vitals and blood sugar. The flight attendant then comes back and reports that his blood pressure is very low and they can not locate a glucometer, a device that reports blood sugar levels. This back and forth continued for a bit, Cross all the while cooperating, because again, a man’s life was on the line. Although the flight attendant eventually apologized to Cross a number of times and offered her Delta Sky Miles, it is bigger than that. Cross says it best:
“Whether this was race, age, gender discrimination, it’s not right. She will not get away with this… and I will get my sky miles.”
Highlighting #WOC in Medicine
We hear you, girl, and we stand with you and others, because there are so many women of color, especially Black women physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals who constantly face discrimination. Don’t believe it? Check out the hashtags that trended on twitter in light of the situation: #WhatADoctorLooksLike and #WeDoExist. You might even recall a story that was shared on Twitter last year by a nurse. See the tweets below, where this cardiac nurse was denied the right to treat a patient because she was black. The child’s father specifically requested that African-American nurses not tend to his son.
Thank you so much Dr. Tamika Cross for all that you do to contribute to the world of #STEM and Medicine! You helped save that man’s life. Despite it all, you still managed to do your job! We appreciate you for all you do!
Copyright © 2016 by Jedidah Isler
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