CWRU Medical Graduates Will Make History at Vanderbilt

Cleveland — We read about history, but we don’t often get to be part of it.

Originally from Tallahassee, Florida, Tamia Potter is currently a graduate of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Her dream of becoming a neurosurgeon is one step closer to becoming a reality.

Tamia found herself making history when she opened the envelope in March on Matchday, the day medical students across the country learn about the post-graduation training program. Tamia was admitted to Vanderbilt University, making her the first black female neurosurgeon resident in the university’s nearly 150-year history.

According to the National Institutes of Health, there are only 33 black female neurosurgeons in the United States. Tamia is gearing up to be on that list.

“What’s different is that when you’re doing this, sometimes you don’t know who you are or what you look like,” Tamia explains. “For me, I’m just doing my job, but for others, it looks like black women are doing a really great job.”

This achievement is personal to Tamia. She is the first in her family to go to medical school.

But this was the moment she had planned since childhood, when it first sparked her fascination with the human brain and its inner workings.

“As a child, watching my mother, a nurse, take care of patients, I always wondered why the body worked the way it did,” recalls Tamia. “I knew [then] I wanted to learn and understand how the brain and nervous system work. I wanted to be a brain surgeon. ”

This curiosity led Tamia to obtain her certified nursing assistant license at the age of 17 while still in high school. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Florida Agricultural University, so she spent her college years working night shifts at nursing homes. Her caring for dementia patients further fueled her curiosity to understand and solve the mysteries of her illness that plague people with neurological disorders and injuries.

For Tamia, her family has been her greatest support system, and she has also been encouraged and inspired by a special mentor.

“The reason I knew this was possible was because I met Dr. Tiffany Hodges, a black neurosurgeon here at UH[University Hospital]. She was the first doctor I ever saw.” she says.

Tamia believes that fewer minorities pursue medicine because they lack guidance, knowledge and support. She added that she was honored to be given the opportunity to pave the way for black and brown women with the hope of pursuing the same dream.

“Tamia will show up again, and I’ll gain experience helping them,” she says. “And if someone gave it to me, I wouldn’t understand. I have to learn for myself what it means to go down this path so I can educate and give back to others.” it won’t.”

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