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Black History Month: Physician Spotlight

 Dr. Nefertari D. Esemuede

(OBGYN, Rockledge, FL)

As a child, Dr. Nefertari D. Esemuede wanted to be a veterinarian, but ultimately pursued medicine at her father’s urging, settling to care for humans rather than animals. A native of Trinidad, Dr. Esemuede immigrated to the U.S. to attend Dartmouth College in New Hampshire where she studied pre-med and later went to medical school at the University of Washington in St. Louis, Missouri.

​​​​​​​During her rotations in St. Louis, while delivering the second baby of a set of triplets, she realized she could combine her love for surgery and developing long-term relationships with patients by becoming an OBGYN. “It was just a clear fit. Luckily for me, I did not like anything else,” she says.

After a stint in Pennsylvania, her longing to return to a warmer climate brought her and her husband, a vascular surgeon, to Florida in 2011. They both began working at the hospital in Rockledge, which became Steward’s Rockledge Regional Medical Center in 2017 – and have been there ever since.

Reflecting on her experience as a Black female physician, Dr. Esemuede says, “You see some of your African American or minority patients are concerned coming into a medical environment because of a very, very long history of medical distrust here in America. I tend to open up even more to make sure that they feel comfortable with their choices. We’ve come a long way, but there’s still a long way to go.”

She’s hoping to set an example for future generations: “I’ve even had some patients come in and tell me that they’re thinking about medicine now, because this is the first time they’ve ever seen a Black female doctor.”

 

Dr. Papa K. Badoe

(Internal Medicine, Taunton, MA)

For Dr. Papa K. Badoe, medicine is in his DNA — his father and uncle were physicians in Ghana. In fact, his uncle was instrumental in setting up the country’s first medical school following its independence from the United Kingdom.

Born in Scotland, Dr. Badoe completed his medical training in Ghana before attending Brown University in Rhode Island to complete his residency. After working in Rhode Island and across Massachusetts, he joined Steward in 2019. Having cared for a variety of patients over his three decade-plus career, Dr. Badoe says medicine is both a science and an art: “If you don’t understand those human aspects of the patients you’re dealing with, you won’t be able to heal them.”

​​​​​​​As we celebrate Black History Month, Dr. Badoe says it’s fitting that we remember all the contributions Black people have made to make our country what it is. He also reflected on the recent renewed spotlight on systemic racism and inequality, adding that “A lot of people see negativity in all the conversations we’ve had recently, but I think that those conversations were a long time coming. The unique thing about America is that we’re having those conversations. I’ve lived in other countries, they have the same problem, but they don’t talk about it. The first step to solving these issues is talking about them – it’s rough and its uncomfortable, but that’s the first step in solving whatever differences there are.”

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