Pictured from left: Michele C. Reed, (D.O. ’97), Elvita Genelus-Dominique (D.O. ’04), Raysha J. Crawford (D.O. ’14), and Courtney A. Jones (D.O. ’08)
Throughout Black History Month in February, New York Institute of Technology hosted events to recognize and honor African American achievements and successes. On February 17, four graduates of the College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM) returned to their alma mater to participate in a panel discussion about their successes and to offer their unique perspectives on diversity in the medical profession.
The panel included Raysha J. Crawford (D.O. ’14), a family medicine physician and instructor of clinical family medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Courtney A. Jones (D.O. ’08), a board-certified family medicine doctor at MedExcel, Elvita Genelus-Dominique (D.O. ’04), who specializes in surgery and critical care at Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and Michele C. Reed, (D.O. ’97), a family physician and primary care doctor who has worked on Long Island for the past three decades.
The alumni talked about their experiences in college and within their communities. Reed noted that when she applied to NYITCOM in the early 1990s, it had the most Black and Hispanic students of all the medical schools in New York. She said she appreciates how the diversity helped to create a strong bond among her and her fellow students. “It was a really good network, and we are still very close to this day,” she said.
The group also addressed the benefits of being African American in the medical field. Jones described how being the only Black doctor at Excel Urgent Care is a powerful form of representing one’s nationality and ethnicity. “It’s an opportunity to educate people,” he said. Dominique added that she hopes people of different backgrounds take advantage of new opportunities in medicine and noted she is only one of two African American women in her workplace. “Unfortunately, a lot of young kids don’t know that the possibilities are endless unless they see someone of their own color talking to them,” she said.
The alumni also highlighted organizations that are available to support Black doctors and residents, including the Black Physicians Network of Greater Rochester, Inc., a nonprofit organization aimed at educating, mentoring, networking, and fundraising for physicians of color. “What we do is making sure that there’s not only an advocacy for the attending side, but also for the medical schools,” said Dominique. She also talked about her active participation in global health initiatives in countries like Haiti and noted that students should be more dedicated to their work and profession vs. organizations. Jones added to Dominique’s comment, stating that success in the field ultimately comes down to one’s passion.