Category Archives: Underrepresented in Medicine

STFM Is My Most Precious Membership


Evelyn Figueroa, MD

I have learned so much from its people, meetings, collaboratives, group projects, and online resources. STFM’s mission is my professional mission – to advance the health of our patients through education. STFM was the first place where I found mentors that looked and sounded like me. It has created the space for me to find and develop my professional identity and learn so much more beyond the physical medicine promoted in medical school. My involvement in STFM has provided repeated opportunities to learn and expand my reach in health care education.

Like many members, STFM is my happy place, a place where I can recharge and stretch. After each spring meeting I normally return to Chicago with a list filled with new ideas to build into my university work. Its work on health equity and social responsibility inspired me to develop curricula and clinical programs aimed at addressing health conditions related to food insecurity, homelessness, and drug use. What is so special about STFM is that it gave me the tools to advocate and integrate concepts related to bias in healthcare such as racism, sexism, heterosexism, and privilege into my everyday teaching and patient care. Family medicine thought leaders like Camara Phyllis Jones and Warren Ferguson have given me the courage to disrupt and push for more humanistic and equitable care.

Between meetings STFM maintains its connection and I feel its support. My distance peer mentors Ed Figueroa (my “brother from another mother”), Judy Washington, and Jo Brown Speights taught me about how to provide quality mentoring to underrepresented minority physicians. On the Board of Directors, we explored what responsibility STFM as an organization has in providing social determinants of health training in substantial and sustainable ways. How validating it has been to feel the support of our entire organization in issues that matter to the community I serve so strongly!

So now here I am, a family physician activist in academic medicine pivoting my work towards health equity training in medical education. In 2017, with my incredibly supportive partner Alex Wu and our children, we started the Figueroa Wu Family Foundation. Our main project is the UI Health Pilsen Food Pantry, a program that has distributed more than 300,000 pounds of healthy food and household items to nearly 10,000 visitors since opening in January 2018. This open-access pantry operates 20 hours a week and is staffed by community, student, and resident volunteers. Our pantry teaches about bias, inequity, and food justice while providing an important service to the community. The pantry also serves as a learning laboratory to help students preserve their humanism while keeping patients at the center. With the help of medical students, we are developing a medical legal partnership to further advocate for our patients. Chicago is a place of excess where there is enough for everyone. I am trying to engage with the UIC community in order to help the overlooked and marginalized be heard and recognized.

I am not sure I would have found my professional voice without STFM. I appreciate all that STFM keeps teaching me about the power of family medicine. I want to be the physician my patients deserve and STFM is an integral part of my motivation and inspiration.

I Share This Story Because it Has Stayed With Me For Some Time

Shannon Pittman Moore, MD

Shannon Pittman Moore, MD

I am, at heart, a genuine country girl.

I grew up making mud pies, riding on the back of trucks, and swimming in the local creek. Despite the horrific racial past that will forever scar the fabric of our state, Mississippi has always been, and I believe will always be, my home.

From Pike County I was transplanted to the rich soil of Tougaloo College. There under the hanging moss, I came to appreciate, even more, the heritage and history of African Americans. Though I have clearly always been aware that I am indeed a black woman and though never disillusion that this still means something in the South, I am blessed that to have been covered by the debt paid by those who walked this road long before me. I have never been called out of my name, forced to move to the back, nor told that I don’t belong. Never beaten, refused or chained.

I have, however, tasted the subversive bitterness of unconscious bias and seen the effects of the subtle erosion caused by institutionalized racism.

Of all the stories and experiences that flood my mind of my medical education and training, I still remember the first patient who called me “Ms” and not “Dr.” I remember the patient who needed to begin our visit declaring that she, in fact, liked colored people and had colored friends. I recall being the resident on a team with my attending and three students who were all white men and walking into a patient’s room that I had been actually rounding on daily, to have her respond with awe as the team walked in that morning and express her excitement to have 1, 2, 3, 4 doctors. She started counting past me.

Years later, I still see that room and more than the patient, I see my attending not correcting the statement. Sadder still is my shame that neither did I. But I also remember being welcomed to sit with the family of this amazing lady who I had cared for since I started residency. No one in the church looked like me and yet everyone shared my same love for her. I remember a patient with elevated troponins refusing her heart cath until she could talk to her doctor that she trusted. I have had so many incredible relationships with wonderful patients, none of which stifled by differences.

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Taking Baby Steps to Success

Kehinde Eniola, MD, MPH

Kehinde Eniola, MD, MPH

It takes baby steps; do not be in haste to accomplish your goal. And when it seems your goal is unattainable, never give up.

This motto is what I lived by during my journey as an immigrant from Nigeria on my way to becoming a family medicine faculty member.

My baby step to success began back in 1997 while getting ready for college in Nigeria. I was enrolled in a predegree course in basic science with the intention of getting into college to study agricultural economics. However, as fate would have it, I completed my predegree course with excellent grades and I qualified to enroll in medical science.

In my first year, I quickly realized that it takes a devoted mind and a committed heart to be successful in the field of medicine. And on top of the rigors of medical school, I endured years of studying in the dark due to inadequate electricity supply and frequent school closure due to rioting and lecturer strikes. However, despite all the hardship, I was focused on one goal: becoming a medical doctor. In 2006, I graduated from medical school and shortly after I relocated to the United States.

One might wonder “why relocate to the United States after completing medical school?” Right after medical school, I applied to various medical institutions in Nigeria for a medical internship position. After multiple attempts to get into one of these institutions failed, I decided to relocate to the United States to further my medical education. Many questions crossed my mind: What if I do not pass the required licensing exam to further my medical career in the United States? What if I cannot afford to pay for the licensing exams? What if… What if…  Some international medical graduates say that it is challenging to get into a residency program; others recommended going for a nursing program instead, to make ends meet while trying to get into a medical residency program. Despite my fear, I summoned courage and began the process of getting into a US residency program. 

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