The WCBD Blog
"The paradox of education is precisely this - that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated." - James Baldwin
I was wondering if you all had any tips to maintain natural hair. Currently it takes me about four hours (all at once) to detangle my hair once a week, plus an additional two to four hours to style it, shampoo and condition throughout the week. That time can really add up.
I don’t really want to relax or cut my hair (even though it might be easier) but if it comes down to it, I will. I feel like my hair is a symbol of defiance in a place where not a lot of people look like you. It reminds me of my culture and my power.
So after all of that, any tips or advice?
- No Time for Twist Outs
We understand that being a black woman in medicine can be difficult. Part of that struggle is exactly why we're here to help.
Just because you are pursuing a career in medicine doesn't mean you should have to lose who you are, or otherwise change what you feel is so integral a part of your being. Even within WCBD, we have founders who wear dreadlocks, relaxers, and natural hair. Some naturalistas (like myself) don't mind having "heat trained" hair and are able to wear their hair pressed, bunned or in a ponytail 24/7. But we also understand the desire to maintain your unadulterated natural texture.
As you go throughout your medical career, there will be ebbs and flows during your schedule much like in undergrad. Just like you may forgo doing your hair or getting it done during finals week, you may feel similarly when studying for a board exam or on your surgery rotation. During these times, some classmates opt to get braids or other low maintenance long term styles as they continue to grind. For many students, braids are a style that allow them to continue to express themselves culturally while not having to manipulate their hair on a daily basis.
Other students with natural hair continue to find time to maintain their hair. Some students take the summer (or semester of college) to master their wash-and-go so that they don't have to do more than fluff their "pineapple" and go during the week. We acknowledge that it may look slightly less than perfection by the end of the week, but medical school is a grind and everyone knows it. Another option I would encourage would be to have a stylist on hand that can do natural hair styles (twists, braids, perm rod sets) more efficiently than you may be able to. Even if she is simply twisting up your hair on Saturday, you wear it that way for two days while studying, you can rock a bomb twist-out from Tuesday to Friday. (Many stylists these days even let you book online, so you can always make adjustments to your changing availability.)
If you manage your time well, yes, many weeks you will be able to donate 6 hours of your time to doing your hair. However, I would not plan on this being the norm, particularly not as you are just starting to get a rhythm for how to master the material. Maintaining our hair is yet another obstacle that we have to conquer, but with adequate foresight and realistic expectations, we are confident you can graduate from medical school with the flowing, healthy tresses you came with (or better)!
Here at the WCBD headquarters- usually our living room or the student lounge at the hospital- we are often engaged in conversation about how we can effectively explain exactly what we're all about. Two of the most popular questions we get are "Do you have chapters at medical schools that I can join?" and "How can I get more involved?" The answers? "Not really." and "You tell us!" Clear as mud, we know.
The thing is, White Coats Black Doctors is not a fraternity, nor student organization. We are a nonprofit foundation driven by grassroots efforts of students and supporters across the country. It's your purchasing of merchandise to fund scholarships and community outreach, your volunteerism mentoring young people who want to pursue this journey, your endless advocacy for fairness and representation that carries the mission forward. Over 12 years ago, the Council on Graduate Medical Education in the 2005 "Minorities in Medicine" report, 'Lack of persistence in completing high school and failure to enroll in and graduate from college are the greatest barriers to URM entry into medicine.' So, you can get creative with how you "get more involved" simply by meeting the needs in your community, to help increase the number of black boys and girls becoming black college graduates who eventually become black physicians.
Kelley Butler is a perfect example.
Kelley is a second-year medical student at UC Irvine School of Medicine. We were excited to come across a video of Kelley teaching a group of 9th graders in her local community about sex ed and puberty, all while sporting some WCBD 'nalia. We were so happy to see Kelley take the WCBD mission to reach out to the next generation of black physicians, to mentor, inspire, and show how this movement is more than a fashion statement. We interviewed Kelley about her outreach efforts via email, and hope you'll learn a little something that will encourage you to take up the WCBD mission and make it your own.
If you're interested in becoming a WCBD Ambassador, click here.
Here at WCBD, our goal is to support the developing future black doctors of America. As they stand on the precipice between medical school and residency, fourth-year medical students are perhaps the most in need of support from older, wiser docs who can help students navigate their way across the mysterious and sometimes frightening journey of residency interviews. No amount of color-coded spreadsheets can soothe an anxious interviewees mind as well as some practical advice from a physician who's successfully done this before.
We caught up with Dr. Bennal Perkins, a Hospitalist & Clinical Assistant Professor at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC, for advice on how to navigate the residency interview. Mentoring medical students is a big passion and priority for Dr. Perkins. "This can be a scary process and sometimes it's hard without any guidance," she shared with us via email. "Sometimes, you just need someone to talk to for mentorship, encouragement, or to share great news!"
And, because she can't meet every fourth-year one-on-one, Dr. Perkins offered up some of her time-tested interview questions, as well as some tips to make residency program visits productive and informative. Making the decision of how to rank programs that will shape the rest of your career is no small feat. But, with these pieces of advice from Dr. Perkins, you'll go in feeling confident to show off your very best self to the interviewers, and feel qualified to discern which program is the right one for you.
The interview questions are listed below, and if you click the blue "Scribd." link you can also download the questions and tips document to your own computer.
What Our Supporters Are Saying
During the 2016 Howard University commencement address, President Barack Obama said to the graduates, "Be confident in your Blackness." WCBD is at the forefront of this movement in addition to promoting peak Black Excellence. I could not be more proud yet humbled by rocking this apparel and supporting the overall mission.