To honor Black History Month, NeurologyLive® spoke with influential Black clinicians on the leaders they look up to, the ongoing fight to overcome racial disparities, and ways to encourage diversity in health care.
Black History Month, a time dedicated to celebrating and honoring the contributions and sacrifices of African Americans, is observed every February in the United States and increasingly around the world. African Americans have played a central role in US history, including in medicine. Notable pioneers in medicine include Mary Eliza Mahoney, the first Black professional nurse in the US, as well as Solomon Carter Fuller, known as the first Black psychiatrist, who was a research assistant to Alois Alzheimer and reported the ninth case of Alzheimer disease ever described.
Across neurology specifically, there have been several other barrier-breakers, including Alexa Canady, who became the first Black woman to become a neurosurgeon in 1981, and Audrey Shields Penn, a neurologist and emeritus professor who was the first Black woman to serve as an acting director of an institute of the National Institutes of Health. While these individuals have helped open the door for a more diverse and inclusive society, challenges remain to building a more equitable environment in health care and beyond.
As part of our efforts to recognize contributions both past and present, NeurologyLive® spoke with several Black leaders in the neurology community to learn more about their experience in health care, what or who has inspired them, and how they are helping their communities overcome disparities.