To kick off Black History Month, we are honored to highlight one of our primary care providers who sees practicing medicine as his calling from God.
Stephen Adu-Yeboah, MD, of Mercy Health – Kings Mills Primary Care, first shares his thoughts about what this month means to him.
“To me, Black History Month is an opportunity to recognize our history as Black people,” he says. “This includes the accomplishments achieved in the past and present, particularly the ones not highlighted in conventional history and culture.”
For Dr. Adu, the month is not just about focusing on the positive.
“It is time to remember the wrongs of the past, to acknowledge the progress made and to strategize on what can be done to create a more just and equal future for Blacks.”
While most people know and recognize the great works of Black civil rights leaders, very few know their counterparts in the medical field.
“A Black pioneer in medicine that inspires me is Dr. James McCune Smith,” Dr. Adu shares. “He was the first African American to hold a medical degree in this country. He was an example of academic and professional excellence. He was also a brilliant scientist, statistician and an abolitionist.”
In the Black community, Dr. Adu says there is so much that needs to be done to improve overall health and health equity. He adds that there are many factors that contribute to this.
“Noncompliance with regular doctors’ visits is a big one. The struggle of life sometimes places health, particularly preventative health, lower on a life priority scale. There isn’t any medicinal cure for this. But it can only be improved by working in the community, helping people access resources and educating our people.”
Dr. Adu’s journey to become a physician was not an easy one. There have been immigration, financial and resource challenges in his path. However, he overcame those obstacles and has this advice for future Black doctors on their journey.
“Don’t let any noise distract you – stay focused. Build relationships and network with the right people. This will be one of the most important achievements in your training. And most importantly, work hard. You might feel like giving up when things get really tough, but if you hold on, you will learn it was all worth it. You have no idea how many people from our community are rooting for you. This will be clearer to you when you finally achieve your goal.”
At Mercy Health, we value diversity and inclusion across our ministry. Dr. Adu agrees and believes this culture “helps foster an environment that is conducive for me to carry out my duties, to lead and to speak out when needed, without the obligation to conform with everyone else.”
Visit the Mercy Health website to learn more about our ministry.