The Unsung Edge of Diversity in Medicine Through the Lens of an Oncologist

Dr. Sophia Edwards Bennett Radiation Oncologist MYRTLE BEACH, SC

Dr. Sophia Edwards Bennett practices Radiation Oncology in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Radiation oncology is a medical specialty that involves treating cancer with radiation. Dr. Edwards Bennett specializes in treating cancer with radiation, using radiation therapy to treat a wide variety of cancers. Radiation therapy... more

In the medical field, training tenured by physicians renders the knowledge and technical skills required.  But, notwithstanding, the diversity of our backgrounds and differential conduits to medicine, undoubtedly contributes immeasurably to the medical profession.  How we react, emote, counsel, perceive, emotionally embrace, support, instruct and interact with our patients, is directly correlated with the paths trod through backgrounds and experiences from deeper depths to attained higher heights; and the inevitable yet surmountable obstacles interwoven within. We impart this wealth of learned and experiential knowledge to our clinics, hospitals and research facilities.  

As a practicing oncologist, my perspective and attitude toward patients is molded and tempered by my modest and humble origins, and lessons learnt on my odyssey path to attainment.  Intimate familiarity with struggle, pain and suffering of any form, the gripping experience of “need without provision” or “the uncertainty of hope” introduces and emboldens diversity within the medical milieu. 

In like manner, our patients present to us from diverse backgrounds, all faced with the reality of their own mortality; emotionally dwelling invariably within a vulnerable realm. This state of being has no color, it is not labeled or defined by financial, religious or political status. It is no respecter of persons.  Our patients present, cloaked with palpable fear and anxiety, and armored with their perspectives borne from their own perceptions, conceptions and experiences. 

As physicians, we must possess the capacity to be vulnerable, to extract from the banks of our own diverse vulnerable experiences, to the extent that we recognize, acknowledge, validate, address, and neutralize our patients.  We must harness the capacity to be submersed in the gambit of emotions emitted by our patients, while concurrently formulating and delivering informed, unbiased, accurate and concise treatment decisions and recommendations.  Thus, the coupling of our cranial and emotional intelligence creates an endurable and formidable merger yielding desirable, optimal and consummate patient care. 

Our unique and diverse backgrounds and experiences converge into human commonality; informing and commissioning a veritable level of understanding, which in turn guides and instructs our efforts to assuage and sway our patients’ pendulum of trepidation, frustration, confusion and uncertainty. Therefore,  in order to optimize our daily dutiful interactions and instruct how we navigate the delivery of sensitive, pivotal, life-altering information to our patients; diversity needs to be met not only with diversity of race, religion or socioeconomic strata, but also by a range of diverse backgrounds, experiences, creeds, characteristics, and emotional elasticity. 

Thus, diversity in medicine should no longer be defined as a cliché that is monolithic, referring to or cocooned into one characteristic; be it race, religion, socioeconomic status, geographical, or regional origin. But instead, be highly appraised as an amorphous constellation of all the differential physical, visible, and inherent intangibles that each health care provider embodies, manifests, evinces, champions, upholds and epitomizes.