Jay Price, Anita Johnson, Jim Burris discussed on All Things Considered

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

Thanks so much That's Jay price outside fort Bragg North Carolina Fair skies in the city 54° amplifying Atlanta This is 90.1 I'm Jim burris Thanks for being here this afternoon A recent study finds medical providers racial and ethnic biases can influence how they deliver healthcare Those differences can lead to larger health disparities But where does medicine start in terms of fixing the problem It's something doctor Anita Johnson thinks a lot about Doctor Johnson is a breast surgical oncologist and chief of surgery at cancer treatment centers of America in noonan And when we spoke recently I ask her if she's seen such a racial biases play out in her experience I've been a breast surgeon phone colleges for over 25 years So within the healthcare system I have seen it I think that it's an issue in any hospital system So when it comes to physicians and during their training cultural sensitivity is key in some cases all physicians don't get that training So when we're taking care of individuals whether they are African American descent or of Asian descent sometimes the culture issue is significant you know we are challenged by that You know 25 years ago we probably wouldn't even be talking about this I talk about the kind of progress that you've seen over those few decades Well there's a more freedom to talk about it You know the imagery particularly of black women We must be careful on because we don't want to stereotype We don't want to make comments as they're difficult that their cancers are more difficult to treat than others just because they're black women because most of it is due to the biology And so when we are a healthcare provider whether we're nurses physicians or events practitioners of culture is important and we must be sensitive to their needs but all patients are human beings It should be treated as such What prompted you to go into medicine My mother when I was a child she was quite ill And so I decided at age 8 I wanted to become a doctor So with college and then medical school and actually was going to become o-b-gyn and switch over surgery And I love taking care of women What I love about the anniversary of phone calls is that the research to treatment is always changing we know we have data from the American Cancer Society that the death rates are declining and that's across the board including for black women It's getting a little bit better So I just enjoy what I do I'm able to provide women with better options now than when I first came out of my fellowship Do you find the women of color open up more to you I do You know I'm going to be honest Sometimes when I walk in the room and you know I have a diverse staff here and they tell me that they're so happy to see me So it is personal sometimes And so I treat all races and ethnicities and always have but they're so very few of us And so we know for African American women physicians they're more only 2% of the physician workforce And so they're very few of us and so they are more comfortable I think sometimes there's a language barrier with other providers and we may be able to communicate more effectively You know it does play a role in that What advice do you give if someone wants to become a young person wants to become a physician I encourage it And so because one thing about what you do in life you don't want to not be a doctor because the student loan debt because you don't want to spend your life not doing heavy a dream job You know I have a dream job That's what I tell people I used to tell folks that Oprah thought she had the best job you know if I ever met her I would tell her no you know I probably had this job but I get quite a bit of joy in my work Doctor Anita Johnson is a breast surgical oncologist and chief of surgery at cancer treatment centers of America in Atlanta Doctor Johnson thank you so much for talking to me this afternoon I appreciate it All right thank you again take care Our time now four 48 taking a look at Atlanta traffic.

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