Many of us when we experience symptoms, we call our mothers or next of kin. The trust that we have with people within our relational realm goes much further than we can imagine. Because of this, we’re willing to try that home remedy that was recommended. If that doesn’t work, we’re headed straight for the doctor’s office where we are hoping to be heard, offered a cure and assured that everything may be okay. We’re hoping that our healthcare professionals can step up to the plate and nurse us back to health just as someone close to use would. We’re hoping that they understand the health issues that people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds face. We’re hoping that while they are experts in their fields, that they can identify with us, patients.
That is exactly why diversity and inclusion in healthcare are so important, both for patients and the industry as a whole. I partnered with Uber to interview a young, African American female who is a recent doctoral graduate and a recent member of the faculty at an HBCU. Dr. Tiffany Turner talked with me about how she got to where she is today and broke down the importance of training minorities and women to embark on a career in healthcare.
It’s an honor to partner with Uber whom is celebrating the cultural trailblazers who are creating positive change in the world and creating a megaphone for diverse perspectives to be heard. They are recognizing the value of diversity, culture, and inclusion in all realms, specifically through internal organizations such as UberHUE and Women of Uber .
Check out this interview with Tiffany:
- What inspired you to obtain your Ph.D.?
As a scientist, you have the unique opportunity to recognize gaps in our current knowledge and then design experiments, troubleshoot and collect data to bridge those gaps. I have always been interested in HIV/AIDS and my research on host-viral interactions has allowed me to collaborate on several projects to elucidate the underlying mechanisms that lead to disease. It is important to have African American healthcare professionals working to prevent health disparities which disproportionately target African American Communities. This is why it is important for minorities to have knowledge about the virus and have access to care with physicians that they trust.
Tell me about your transition from Ph.D. Candidate to Faculty.
As a Ph.D. candidate, I was able to transition to faculty by taking advantage of opportunities to work alongside students and evaluate a wide variety of learning styles. For five years I served as a teaching assistant, and I was blessed to have mentorship and support from other educators who have helped me grow professionally in my career. As a faculty member, I continue to conduct HIV/AIDS research and attend academic conferences to stay abreast of new developments and techniques to enhance students’ academic outcomes. Just as I was trained, I enjoy providing the resources and tools that my students will need as practicing physicians. As a proud graduate of an HBCU, I am thankful to have the opportunity to train students who come from various backgrounds and ethnicities.
Serving as a faculty member at a historically black university allows for me to ensure that we are continually educating minorities and empowering them to attain doctoral degrees. Thereof, increasing the number of minority health care professionals and servicing the underserved.
Talk about how you’ve balanced your personal life and your professional life.
I had two professional parents who were great role models and showed me how to balance life. Being as both parents were educators showed me the importance of continuing education. In addition, I was exposed to African American healthcare professionals at a young age who inspired me to want to pursue a career in the STEM field. My mother was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer and passed away when I was an undergraduate. My father was diagnosed with cancer and passed away a few years later. Dealing with such circumstances makes you interested in diseases and how to prevent them. You know that there is a cure out there and you hope to continue to advance the field of biomedical science so that one day we can prevent cancer. I have faith. These situations increased my faith.
It is still not easy! I have an amazing husband who is very supportive. He makes sure to schedule date nights and plan trips so that I can refresh. I also have an extraordinary family and girlfriends that inspire and encourage me. It takes a village to be whole and take on the demands of the healthcare realm. Whether they live in California, NY, NC or DC, they are always there for me.
What techniques are you utilizing as new faculty to teach the next generation of doctors?
My lecture style promotes student-centered learning to challenge student thinking and stimulate constructive group discussions. As a result, I have witnessed a significant increase in student capacity to work in teams, analyze, evaluate and apply knowledge to complex problems. My goal is to continue to encourage content-focused discussion to strengthen students’ problem solving and critical thinking skills and promote innovation. This will help them build their confidence and be more proactive when treating patients. After all, life and death are in their hands.
What’s one bit of advice you would tell other women looking to be healthcare professionals?
Don’t give up. If you have a passion for scientific discovery, continue to work hard. I lost my father, got married and had my son during graduate school. There will be obstacles during your journey, but keep pushing. This is a very exciting time to be a scientist or a clinician because there are many innovative therapies that are allowing us to treat and cure diseases!
I love that more minorities and women are going into healthcare, and thanks to Uber for supporting them and sparking this conversation!
Click here to read more about UberHUE.
Click here to read more about Women of Uber.