For James Kris Harley, DO, Black History Month is a time of reflection as well as a way to look forward.
“I typically use this month as motivation to refrain from complacency and reflect on how I can improve as a physician and as a person overall,” he shares.
“For me, this month also serves as a reminder of the plethora of contributions to our society by Black Americans. Every year I discover some invention or luxury created by Black Americans that is now in common use in our everyday lives.”
Dr. Harley adds, “Black History is American history. The contributions of Black Americans should not be inaccurately viewed or perceived as foreign.”
Growing up, Dr. Harley’s family kicked off Black History Month a few weeks before February by observing Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a day of service to the community. His grandparents would use this time to share experiences not typically discussed in education and film, providing invaluable insight into the evolution of America.
“My grandparents would routinely emphasize the importance of access to education and resources that were not afforded to them,” he shares.
Dr. Harley was inspired to enter the field of medicine by his family, receiving insight into the medical field from his mother, who was a nurse. He further credits his discipline and attention to detail to his military veteran father, his tireless work ethic from his grandfather and sewing dexterity from his grandmother.
“A perfect set-up for becoming a surgeon!” he says
We are honored to have Dr. Harley as a trauma surgeon at Mercy Health – St. Rita’s Medical Center.
“Most people outside of medicine do not fully grasp the extent of our responsibilities or positions, but given my absence from a lot of holiday events, my family knows that I am serving others,” Dr. Harley states. “Being selfless and achieving one’s goals is part of the value system instilled by my parents at an early age, and living that mantra daily is what likely makes them most proud.”
When asked about the importance of diversity in health care, Dr. Harley explains that representation is a key component to being successful as a team and displaying connection with society.
“What happens between people is what really counts,” he adds.
Dr. Harley encourages future generations of health care workers to be exposed to health care early and learn to understand the intrinsic nature of caring for others.
Read more Black History Month stories about our team members.
Also, learn more about the surgical services we offer at Mercy Health.