SNMA Celebrates Black History Month with Former Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher

On February 7, 2018, SNMA hosted a Lunch & Grow with the 16th United States Surgeon General and former Director of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). In his talk, Dr. Satcher reflected on his childhood in Anniston, AL, and how Dr. Jackson, the local physician who treated him for whooping cough when he was 5 years old, influenced his decision to become a physician. He discussed how having spent his formative years in segregated, rural Alabama impacted his decision to take a leadership role in the Atlanta Student Movement during his matriculation at Morehouse College in the 1960s. His experiences continued to inform his choices in medical school, and as the first African American MD-PhD student at Case Western Reserve University, he protested an unjust educational exercise, even at the risk of being expelled.

Dr. Satcher spoke fondly of his tenure as CDC Director, including the campaign to vaccinate more than 100 million children in India against polio. He also recalled reports he published as Surgeon General, including the first on the state of mental health in 1999 and several reports on smoking and racial & ethnic disparities. 

Dr. Satcher credited experiences in his youth for forging his passion for seeking health equity, and he reiterated that "leadership is a team sport." After the lecture, he joined SNMA for a private dinner reception, leading a thought-provoking discussion on medical education and how students can effect change even though so early in their careers.

Check out the story on our local NPR affiliate: