New nonprofit encourages women physicians of color

Artemis Medical Society offers support, guidance for women physicians of color

(SUNNYVALE-December 25, 2012) Dr. Myiesha Taylor always knew she would become a physician one day. However, while growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, there were few women physicians of color in her daily life or in the media to serve as role models.

Even in her career, whether it’s when she’s working as an emergency medicine specialist at Texas Regional Medical Center at Sunnyvale or at her second job as the physician supervisor at the Dr Pepper plant in Irving, Taylor, 38, rarely encounters women physicians of color. So, when she heard about the new cartoon “Doc McStuffins,” shown on Disney Junior, Taylor welcomed the opportunity to share a bit of her profession with her preschool daughter, Hana Taylor Schlitz.

The popular television show, which stars a 6-year-old African-American girl whose favorite accessory is a pink stethoscope and who dreams of becoming a doctor like her mother, impressed Taylor so much she wrote about it on her own blog, CoilyEmbrace.com. She also created an online collage of 131 African-American women physicians who are real-life Doc McStuffins and sent the collage to Disney.

The subsequent international media attention of her campaign drew more physicians’ praises, as well as numerous requests for an organized way for women physicians of color to share their common experiences. So, Taylor, with help from other physicians, created Artemis Medical Society, a new Fort Worth-based nonprofit corporation.

Named after the Greek goddess Artemis, the nonprofit’s mission is to create and promote an environment in medicine where women physicians of color from all medical specialties can come together to support and learn from each other. Taylor is Artemis’ president.

“Artemis Medical Society believes women physicians of color are a vital part of an effective physician workforce and that they deliver quality health care to our increasingly diverse communities,” Taylor said. “Therefore, Artemis’ mission is to serve, nurture and celebrate a global sisterhood of women physicians of color through mentoring, networking and advocacy.”

Artemis started with the Facebook page facebook.com/groups/342922302445521/ and a couple hundred members in June, and will transition to a new website ArtemisMedicalSociety.org soon. Artemis boasts more than 2,500 members already.

About 90 percent of Artemis’ members are African-American women physicians, but the group is open to women physicians of all minority groups, Taylor said. Members represent 25 medical specialties and live in 39 states and six countries.

American Medical Association’s statistics show there were 18,533 black female physicians in 2010, less than 2 percent of the 985,375 physicians in the United States.

Taylor—inspired to enter emergency medicine after her father, Dwight, was among one of the first bystanders shot in 1992 Los Angeles riots and died of his injuries in a hospital soon after—hopes to encourage more racial diversity in the physician workforce. Taylor’s mother and grandmother were nurses, and both encouraged her to become a physician.

The founders are funding all of Artemis’ expenses at this point, Taylor said. However, Artemis will collect membership dues at some point in the future.

The nonprofit hosted several online seminars for members recently.

Stephen Garrison, president and CEO of TRMC-Sunnyvale, praised Taylor for her efforts to encourage other women and promote diversity and growth among the physician ranks.

“She’s a leader for the profession, as well as wonderful role model for all the young minority girls and women who will become physicians in the decades to come,” Garrison said. “We are always pleased when one of TRMC-Sunnyvale’s physicians goes above and beyond to make a difference in the community, whether it’s by volunteering in a local neighborhood or by taking the extra step to strengthen our medical community by affirming and encouraging what’s possible for every child.”

For more information about Artemis, go to facebook.com/groups/342922302445521/.

Submitted by Stephanie Patrick, Cottage PR and Consulting.

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