What was my biggest obstacle?
Since there were no physicians in my family, I had no template. It was my good fortune not to realize or recognize obvious obstacles. Upon reflection, the first big hurdle could have been lack of any financial backing (money). I clearly understood that academic successes would be my ticket to college. I knew that although my single mother's two jobs provided a small but comfortable home, piano lessons, local excursions and special treats for my younger sister and me, there were no extra dollars to save for college. Fortunately, academic success was rewarded with scholarships.
Gender could have been another obstacle. With my mother as my example, I did not realize being a woman could be an obstacle. My mother graduated from college when I was three years old. She opened and operated a successful business and became the first independent businesswoman I encountered. Race is probably the continuing challenge. Thanks to the racial divide, as a Black American, I clearly understood, from childhood, that I would be judged by a different standard. More would be expected from me by both races, but for different reasons. I always felt that I had to excel to earn the place I felt I deserved in academic circles and to maintain the pride of my community.
How do I make a difference?
It's my goal to make a difference in the lives I encounter each day. Each new day is an opportunity to contribute to someone else's life. As a physician, I have a unique role of trust. I am a healer, a counselor and an educator. The information and advice I give may alter one's choices and chances. I know that my words and deeds not only provide caution and comfort, but they mold lives. I hold this position of trust in the highest regard as I strive to make a difference.
Who was my mentor?
My mother, Woodie McLean, is still my primary mentor and my original role model. My professional mentors, in most instances have been male. Dr. Claude Walker, now deceased, was a Washington, D.C. family practice physician, who from the moment we met when I was a freshman college student, and a patient, encouraged my dream of becoming a physician. He gave his time, professional services, occasional meals, donated books to me, and allowed me to shadow him professionally one summer. Another important mentor was Dr. Ernest L. Hopkins, an OB/GYN specialist, who had been one of my admired medical school professors. Thanks to Dr. Hopkins, I learned to appreciate the importance of continuing medical education. He encouraged me to submit articles for publication in professional medical journals and my participation and leadership roles in medical organizations. Dr. Hopkins made it possible for me to attend my first national medical meeting during my pediatric residency by sponsoring my registration fees and all travel expenses. It was my good fortune to have these wonderful individuals as mentors and friends.