Black Women in Medicine now active at FAMU

Maia Hardy, President, 1st-year doctor of pharmacy candidate (left)
Chloe Henderson, Fundraising chair, 1st-year doctor of pharmacy candidate (right) pictured at the Ribbons for Healing station in Coleman library 
Photo submitted by De'Bria Payne.

Black Women in Medicine is an organization for black women in the healthcare field to connect and network with like-minded women. The organization was founded last year at Florida State University.

Black Women in Medicine started with three friends who attended high school and community college together. Ashlei Phillips, senior clinical professions student and Amber Balkcom, psychology student, founded Black Women in Medicine at FSU.

Maia Hardy, first year doctor of pharmacy candidate, started Black Women in Medicine at FAMU.

Black Women in Medicine launched on FAMU’s campus on Aug. 22. The organization now has 118 members.

“On our campus we don’t really have any support for black women in the healthcare field, so we were trying to find a way we can communicate and relate to each other,” said Ashlei Phillips, co-founder of Black Women in Medicine and senior clinical professions major at FSU.

“I want it to be a safe space for women. It’s already hard enough for women in these fields,” said Phillips. “It’s more than an organization, it’s a family and the goal is to become a big non-profit organization.”

Phillips said she was happy to have a chapter of Black Women in Medicine at FAMU. “It was always a goal for me to have it at FAMU, I thought it was a good opportunity and great idea,” Phillips said.

Maia Hardy believed it was important to implement Black Women in Medicine on FAMU’s campus. “We want to help black women network, uplift each other, and build skill sets that we can put on our resumes and make an impact,” Hardy said. “We have a mentor to mentee program called doctor to doctor that pairs members and builds bonds, send textbooks to each other, and give advice.”

Black Women in Medicine has launched a Ribbons for Healing project created by Hardy and Chloe Henderson, first year doctor of pharmacy candidate and Fundraising chair. Students can purchase $2 ribbons and decorate them with inspirational messages in honor of breast cancer awareness month. The ribbons for healing station is located inside Coleman library on the second floor. The project will be ongoing until Nov. 7.

“People don’t understand the circumstances of the situation [breast cancer],” said Hardy. “The cost of treatment is very expensive and to be able to pay the rent.”

Henderson echoed that sentiment.

“Black women are a minority in the medical field, and it’s predominately white and male dominated so it’s important to establish a support system,” Henderson said.

Jessica Florence, junior architecture student at FAMU, was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer at age 22. “Being a millennial with breast cancer you have to know you have options and it’s not the end of the world,” Florence said. “There are options besides chemo and your scars make you beautiful.”

Florence said the Black Women in Medicine Ribbons for Healing project was a great idea. “A lot of times people can’t afford co-pays and medications, and beauty products,” Florence said.

“Students need to do self-examinations and be an advocate for your own health,” Florence said, “Just because they [doctors] say go annually for check-ups I go every six months.”

Florence said she was excited to hear that an organization was advocating for breast cancer in this form.  “People only reach out in October but women go through this everyday. The pink flags and commercials go away,” Florence said.

Black Women in Medicine is aware of how expensive having breast cancer can become and its members plan to donate to an organization that delivers the monies directly to breast cancer patients to cover things like rent that often goes overlooked.