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Book Review: Black Man in a White Coat

The cover of Black Man in a White Coat by Damon Tweedy
Photo by Elinor Shelp-Peck

Dr. Damon Tweedy graduated from Duke University School of Medicine and then completed his residency at Duke University Medical Center where he specialized in psychiatry. He is now an assistant professor and a staff physician for the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Dr. Tweedy has been published in prominent platforms such as The New York Times. He wrote Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflection on Race and Medicine about not only his experiences as a Black man in the medical field, but also about his patients’ experiences.

The book follows a timeline, starting with a story about his time as a medical student at Duke. Dr. Tweedy then bounces back to when he was applying to schools and proceeds to tell stories about his time as a student and resident. He doesn’t just tell these stories, but reflects on what they mean for him, the medical community and society as a whole. His reflections are what taught me the most. As someone who loves to learn, this book was a great way for me to see the world through the eyes of someone who is much different than I am.

Dr. Tweedy writes compassionately but does not sugar-coat the reality of how patients and doctors of color are treated differently due to conscious and unconscious bias. While many of the stories can be difficult or uncomfortable to read, this book is worth the time and emotional energy. I shed a few tears, but they were all worth it.

Another aspect of the book that I found riveting was when Dr. Tweedy called himself out on his own biases and discussed how he became aware of them in addition to their cultural implications. Dr. Tweedy’s recognition that he is fallible made this book that much more relatable. He discusses societal shortcomings just as much as those of food and other people, but he also includes a glimpse of hope for the future by describing moments of growth.

While everyone has different experiences with the medical community, this book is still a great way to educate oneself further. It gives great insight into the medical community and how much it has grown, but also explains that it has a long way to go. When I finished reading, I found myself hoping that Dr. Tweedy would write more about his time as a physician but also as a professor.

By Elinor Shelp-Peck, Co-Editor in Chief


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