The work of racial justice and healing requires more inclusive narratives.

This means centering the perspectives of those most impacted by racism in medicine and providing a platform for them to share their stories. For these speakers, it necessitates vulnerability and risk. For the audience, it requires listening to uncomfortable truths. Hearing stories is a powerful tool for understanding one another and for personal reflection. With these videos, we hope to inspire understanding, compassion, and the desire to work toward an anti-racist culture of medicine in Minnesota. 

In the following interviews, the physicians share their stories and truths about practicing medicine as a person from a marginalized or minoritized community in Minnesota.

Arciniegas Calle was born and raised in Colombia, where she also attended medical school. She completed her research fellowship and residency in family medicine in Minnesota, and currently practices family medicine in California. She never experienced racism or discrimination until her residency in the US. She talks about the importance of those with privilege and power leading change efforts. 

Chomilo is a pediatrician and internist, as well as the state Medicaid Medical Director. He identifies as a Cameroon immigrant and biracial Black man. He talks about the strength and resilience of communities of color, but that burden is not dispersed equitably. He submits that reducing racism needs to be everyone’s work. Chomilo explains that anti-racism requires action and outlines a framework for anti-racism. 

Desai grew up in India and attended medical school there. He is currently a fellow in hematology and oncology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Desai talks about experiencing both subtle and overt racism from patients. He has not experienced racism from his peers, but he believes that both colleagues and systems could take a stronger stand when racism incidents occur. 

Hamlar is an otolaryngologist and craniofacial surgeon, as well as an assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Minnesota.  Although he puts in extra work on equity issues, this work does not count toward the advancement of his academic career. For students from marginalized communities, medical school requirements can be a barrier to entering and succeeding in medicine. Hamlar says we need to eliminate the biases that give an upper hand to certain students while acting as a barrier to others.  

Hart is a psychiatrist, a physician-advocate, and holds various leadership roles in organized medicine. As a young single mother and a Black American woman, she was discouraged from becoming a physician and faced opposition. She talks about physician advocacy, kindness and empathy, the importance of self-care, and seeing people as individuals rather than as stereotypes. 

Kocharian is a sixth year MD-PhD student at the University of Minnesota. She was born in Armenia and grew up in the US, which gives her a unique bi-cultural perspective. She points to lack of representation and barriers to entry as major issues in medical school. Kocharian aims to affect change at the systems level through advocacy and policy work. 

Lewis completed medical school at Mayo and is a neurosurgery resident. His own experiences as a Black male have helped him to better support patients and colleagues who are also marginalized or experience bias. He talks about being held to higher standards and having to make himself smaller to make others comfortable. He tries to open the door a little wider for others by mentoring, representation, and eventually using his status as a neurosurgeon to lead change. 

Oragwu practices family medicine in rural Minnesota. She immigrated to the US from Nigeria with the goal of becoming a physician. She describes her experiences of being unwelcomed and treated differently because of her background. She talks about the importance of representation, of checking our biases, and of being actively anti-racist. 

Owen is from the Tlingit Nation of Alaska. She emphasizes that her culture is a source of strength and resiliency, and that traditional Indigenous values look out for the good of the community. Her culture and connection to her community helped her overcome the barriers to becoming a physician. She talks about the need to change the system entirely and make it more accessible for people of color and people from lower socioeconomic classes.

Yang is a first-generation Hmong American, who immigrated to the US as a child. She is an internist and pediatrician, and she leads the equity and diversity work in her organization. Throughout her career she has experienced racism, bias, and microaggressions and has faced negative stereotypes about her community. She talks about drawing on her culture as a source of strength and the importance of representation. 

During this process, several themes echoed across multiple interviews. The three videos below aim to shed light on the issues faced by physicians who hold marginalized identities.

“Minority Tax,” Different Standards, and Wellbeing

Implicit Bias, Microaggressions, and Explicit Racism

Anti-Racism, Representation, and the Culture of Medicine

The above recordings are the property of the Minnesota Medical Association and are for individual use only, they cannot be used for profit or monetary gain. Permission must be obtained from the Minnesota Medical Association for any other uses. All recordings must be displayed in their original form without editing, distorting, or changing the content in any way. Please contact MMA if you wish to use the videos for a purpose other than individual use.