The First Black Woman in Vanderbilt University’s Neurosurgery Residency Program

Tamia Potter is the first Black woman to earn a place in Vanderbilt University’s neurosurgery residency program in its 91-year history. Dr. Potter starts her residency on July 1, as part of a group of 21 physicians in the 7-year residency program.

Only 5.7 percent of U.S. physicians generally identify as Black or African American. According to the American Society of Black Neurosurgeons, there are currently only 33 Black women who are in the field of neurosurgery in the United States.

A native of Florida, Dr. Potter became a certified nursing assistant at the age of 17. Both her mother and grandmother were nurses. She earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Florida A&M University and her medical degree at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

“There are a lot of stereotypes about Black people in medicine and affirmative action,” Dr. Potter said. “People believe they’re sacrificing quality for quantity of diversity. That’s not the case. You can be a very well-qualified person and be a person of color at the same time. The problem is, because that stereotype exists, when you’re a Black person in spaces like these, you feel the pressure and need to be the best because you want to prove to people that it is not an affirmative action job. I am qualified to be here, and you’re not sacrificing anything by me being here.

“You don’t know what someone is capable of until you give them the right resources,” Potter added. “You can’t just say because this person came from this school and because they don’t have these scores that they’re not going to be an amazing doctor and surgeon.”

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Three African Americans Appointed to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Roles in Higher Education

The appointments to diversity positions are Tamara Clegg at the University of Maryland, Andrew Alvez at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and Kendriana Price at the University of Kentucky.

Study Finds Women of Color Author a Disproportionate Share of Banned Books in American Schools

In the 2021-2022 academic year, school and libraries across the country experienced a significant spike in book bans. A new study has found a disproportionate share of these banned books are written by women of color and include characters from diverse backgrounds.

Christopher Davis Appointed President of LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis

Dr. Davis was appointed interim president of LeMoyne-Owen College last summer. Over the past year, he has led the college through a rebranding initiative, an increase in athletic programming, and improvements to campus infrastructure.

Study Reveals Racial Disparities in Use of Social Security Disability Insurance

According to the report, Black Americans are 1.5 to 2 times more likely to receive Social Security Disability Insurance, and spend roughly 40 percent more on medical care than White Americans.

Featured Jobs