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Dr. Marie Amos Dobyns

Year of Birth / Death


Medical School

The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences



Career Path

Internal medicine: Geriatrics
Dr. Marie Amos Dobyns


I was driven to fulfill my destiny as a woman of science and medicine.

I am from the Eastern Cherokee; my mother's parents are of Cherokee heritage. As a small girl, I grew up hearing my Papa tell how his mother used to throw a mean tomahawk. Fueled by the stories firmly etched in my mind of the trials and accomplishments of my ancestors, I grew up with a fire to succeed and excel despite any obstacles I might face. Early in my education I realized I was on a path, and as the years went by that path became more and more clear.


Dr. Marie Amos Dobyns is an Eastern Cherokee Native American, who fully integrates her Indian heritage into her medical practice. She has worked in Maryland for the past twenty years, providing counseling and care to more than three thousand patients. Dr. Dobyns, whose sister is the internationally acclaimed musician and singer Tori Amos, follows an holistic approach to heal all aspects of her patients. She considers her approach complementary to the way that her sister uses music to enhance people's lives.

Dr. Dobyns began her medical training in the late 1970s, when women's rights advocates had begun to erode some of the barriers to women in the workplace. Although many still thought that nursing was a more suitable career for a woman interested in medicine, she was able to enter her physician training thanks to the Indians into Medicine (INMED) program, designed to increase the number of American Indian doctors practicing in the United States. The program provides academic and personal support for students preparing for careers in the health sciences.

"I flew out to Grand Forks, North Dakota, in the summer of 1978 to start medical school with the INMED program. I was excited at the opportunity to be involved with other Indian medical students and was eager to learn what they had to share with me, and I was honored to serve as an early President of the Association of Native American Medical Students. I learned a great deal about a holistic approach to medicine while in Grand Forks, and developed an even deeper love and appreciation for my Native American heritage. While in Grand Forks, I was accepted to George Washington University School of Medicine to complete my last two years of medical school. With great expectations mixed with sadness at leaving a place and a people who had taught me so much, I boarded the plane with my acceptance letter in hand to continue my journey to medical school.

"During my medical education I returned to the Cherokee reservation, for two more summers, this time in North Carolina where my respect and admiration continued to grow for the traditions of healing I learned while there. It was there, in the Snow Hill Clinic that I realized my calling was to help patients understand that each of them was a canvas, and I was there to help them practice the art of aging. I will always be grateful to Dr. Frank Clark, who was instrumental in my decision to choose to go into internal medicine and geriatrics. It was the start of an adventure that keeps getting more exciting day by day.

After graduating magna cum laude from George Washington University School of Medicine in 1982, I completed my Internship and Residency in Baltimore Maryland, at Mercy Medical Center. I was blessed with many supporters who urged me on during the difficult times, and unfortunately, there were some difficult times. Being part of a new wave of female physicians breaking into the mostly male ranks, I had to prove my stripes every day in the face of peers who were still holding on to old beliefs that put women in subordinate positions to their male counterparts in the medical field.

"In 1985 I started my greatest adventure when I gave birth to my oldest daughter, Dakota Marie. 'Cody' was named in honor of the Sioux of North Dakota who had influenced me so greatly and been so gracious to me in my two years with them. With her birth, I was faced with my most important challenge, that of balancing my medical career with my home life. Cody was the first of my five children and each if them has been an answer to prayer."

In 2002 Dr. Marie Amos Dobyns and her patients celebrated twenty years in practice. She was also inducted into the American Association of Indian Physicians (AAIP) as an elder. In 2003 the AAIP will focus on 'The Healing Journey—Mind, Body and Spirit', and Dr. Dobyns has been chosen to represent these themes. Drawing on her heritage and her own practice, Dr. Dobyns will serve as the AAIP spokesperson for holistic medicine throughout 2003.

Dr. Dobyns strongly believes that patients and doctors form a partnership in promoting good health, and feels honored to be participate in decision-making process in the lives of so many people. She also draws on her own experiences as a patient to shape her approach to healing, and she strives to demystify medical procedures and definitions for her patients.

Question and Answer

What was my biggest obstacle?

My first obstacles to becoming a doctor came in the form of prevailing stereotypes. At the time, in the early-to-mid 1970's, 'girls' usually went to nursing school, not medical school. Fortunately, I had a few farsighted mentors who let me know that I had 'the right stuff' to make it as a Medical Doctor, and so I made sure that I pursued my dream by excelling academically. My educational requirements well in hand, I was faced with the next obstacle to following my path—finances.

How do I make a difference?

In September 2002 I will have been in practice for 20 years. I am now a single mother and I have traveled down a long road with many twists and turns. Fortunately, I never took my eyes off the compass that guided me on my path to a career in the healing arts. I still burn with the passion to treat my patients, and everyday I am mindful of those who came before me and those who helped me along my path. Today, along with running my practice and raising my children (ages 16-9) I try to honor those who were so helpful to me by practicing my art with passionate and caring hands and by passing along their lessons to other practitioners of the healing arts.

Who was my mentor?

My Internship over, providence smiled on me, and I entered medical practice with a man who was both a great healer and generous of spirit. Dr. William Whimsatt took me into his practice and under his wing and continued to guide me in the art of practicing medicine. Dr. Whimsatt helped me to have the courage to care for my patients in a deeper, more meaningful way than was taught in medical school. He gave me the encouragement I needed to look to my heritage to guide my hands when practicing the healing arts.