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Black History Month: Hear from Joy Obayemi, MD

Feb 21, 2024, 18:04 PM by Joy Obayemi, MD

obayemiJoy Obayemi, MD is currently a general surgery resident at Michigan Medicine. She attended medical school at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Obayemi has a clinical interest in transplant surgery and research interest in health equity, the sociology of the healthcare environment, and more. 

Why are you interested in transplant as a career?

I think transplantation is a beautiful demonstration of how a life can be transformed when we take a truly multidisciplinary approach to patient care. While the wonderful complexities of the operations first drew me in, I'm most excited about the work needed outside of the hospital to tackle the ethical, societal, and policy-level challenges that prevent equitable access to transplantation for all, especially disenfranchised communities. 

Who is your biggest influence?

This is a trick question for me because I have had the privilege of learning from several wonderful transplant surgeons. I would credit Dr. Peter Abt for giving me the encouragement I needed when this dream began to take shape. I am grateful for the support and sponsorship of Dr. Michael Englesbe during my residency training. However, if I must choose one, I would say that Dr. Dinee Simpson with her creation of the African American Transplant Access Program embodies the type of surgeon and leader that I hope to be. There is no doubt that I have been greatly influenced by her example and her generous mentorship. 

What does being a surgeon mean to you?

Being a surgeon means having the immense privilege of using my medical knowledge, technical skills, and lived experiences to improve the physical health of patients. I think a surgeon is both the quarterback of the patient's operative care but also the provider with the most responsibility for guiding the patient through what can be a challenging process. 

What is a key takeaway you'd like to highlight during Black History Month?

I would like to highlight the fact that the appreciation of Black history cannot - and should not - be contained to a month. As we go about our personal and professional lives, I hope that we all remember that the beauty and triumphs and struggles of the Black American experience are woven into the fabric of our country and worthy of respect throughout the year. In a similar vein, efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion should be woven into the everyday practices of this professional society and its members.