April is Minority Health Month: Here Are 10 Amazing Minority Physicians Making An Impact

Celebrated every year in April, National Minority Health Month is an effort to raise awareness about health disparities that continue to affect racial and ethnic minority populations. Because many minority neighborhoods have a shortage of physicians and less access to medical care, increasing the supply of minority physicians has been proposed as an intervention that may help to improve the health status in minority communities. COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted minority communities and these clinicians are working daily to improve outcomes for these patients.

Below are 10 influential minority physicians who are dedicated to making an impact and improving health care for underrepresented populations.

1. Dr. Juan Rivera  

Twitter: @drjuanjr

With his clean, fun, upbeat personality — and extensive knowledge about health, wellness, and home remedies — Dr. Juan Rivera is becoming one of today’s most respected, recognized, and sought after medical experts.

Dr. Juan is a Board Certified internist and cardiologist who trained at Johns Hopkins University. He specializes in the prevention, early detection, and treatment of cardiovascular diseases. In addition to serving as the Chief Medical Correspondent for the Univision TV Network, he also hosts his own popular one hour program on Univision called Dr. Juan, which airs every Wednesday morning. Dr. Juan is the author of the two best selling books “Mejora Tu Salud De Poquito a Poco” and “Santo Remedio”, both published under the editorial seal of Penguin Random House. He is also the health columnist for People En Espanol.

Dr. Juan is the creator of Reto 28, a weight-loss event that became the most successful community initiative in Univision history, helping 400,000 individuals lose over one million pounds in one month. He was awarded the Health Leadership Award by the National Hispanic Medical Association for his service in the Latino community.

2. Dr. Craig Cole

Twitter @CraigEmmittCole

Dr. Cole is a renowned board-certified hematologist and Michigan State University alumnus who received his Bachelor of Science degree in physiology. Cole went on to receive his doctoral degree at the Ohio State University College of Medicine and completed his residency and fellowship at the University of Michigan. He completed post-fellowship adult oncology laboratory research in the Jerome Lipper Multiple Myeloma Center of Medicine at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School. Most recently, Cole was a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan in the Division of Hematology/Oncology where he primarily focused on clinical research in multiple myeloma.

During his nine years as an attending hematologist at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, Wisconsin, he participated as the on-site primary investigator for more than 21 clinical trials. His research here expanded to include multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, therapeutic apheresis, and myelodysplasia.

3. Dr. Ilan Shapiro

Twitter: @dr_shaps

Dr. Ilan Shapiro currently practices at AltaMed Federal Qualified Health Centers in California as the Medical Director of Medical Education, Wellness and Behavioral Health. Dr Shapiro was born and raised in Mexico City. After graduating with his MD as the Honorary Valedictorian, he began working for the Mexican Secretary of Health as the liaison between Mexico and the World Health Organization (WHO). He then completed his pediatric residency at Mount Sinai Children’s Hospital in Chicago, a community hospital serving and advocating for minorities and the less privileged.

In the international arena, Dr. Shapiro was elected to the first advisory board in conjunction with the Mexican Foreign Affairs Ministry and Mexican Health Ministry, for the binational program “Ventanillas de Salud”, a Federal program devoted to the well-being of Mexicans abroad.

Dr. Shapiro is actively involved in creating binational public health programs to reach Hispanic communities on both sides of the border. He acted as the medical advisor for the General Consulate of Mexico in Chicago and a member of the editorial board for A Tu Salud (For Your Health), a health bulletin representing Hispanic health topics and resources. As part of the community projects and advocacy, he was invited to become a part of The White House Hispanic Policy Conference Group in 2011. Dr. Shapiro also served as Chairman of the Council of Young Physicians and Board Member for the National Hispanic Medical Association.

4. Dr. Garth Walker

Twitter: @GarthWalkerMD

Dr. Walker is an emergency medicine specialist, researcher, and founder in Chicago with academic, non-profit, and private sector experience in both start-ups and impact investing. Dr. Walker received his bachelor’s degree in economics and chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, MD at the University of Illinois at Chicago, MPH at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine, and emergency medicine training at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.

Dr. Walker is an attending physician at the Jesse Brown Veteran Affairs Hospital where he delivers emergency care to veterans and patients in the Chicagoland area. Dr. Walker is also a health equity fellow with the Northwestern Emergency Department and Northwestern Buehler Center for Health Economics and Policy investigating social determinants of health in firearm injury recidivism and healthcare disparities related to opioid mortalities.

Dr. Walker is also co-founder and Chief Medical Officer of Clinify Inc., a tech platform that utilizes social determinants of health indicators to improve patient engagement, healthcare outcomes, and reduce healthcare costs for vulnerable populations. Dr. Walker’s civic interests are tied to firearm violence reduction, mentorship for diversity in medicine, and equitable education. He is on the advisory board and research counsel for the American Foundation for Firearm Injury Reduction in Medicine (AFFIRM). He is also a mentor for LINK unlimited which supports public school students within the Chicagoland area.  

5. Dr. Oliver Brooks

Twitter: @NMAPresident

Dr. Brooks is President of the National Medical Association and Chief Medical Officer of Watts Healthcare Corporation. He received his B.S. in chemistry from Morehouse College and his M.D. from Howard University College of Medicine. He also completed his residency in Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital-Oakland. He practiced in the underserved communities of North Oakland and Richmond for four years before accepting a pediatric position at the Watts Health Care Corporation where he is presently the Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Brooks has served as Medical Director of the Jordan High School-Based Health Clinic, Chairman of the Immunize LA Families Coalition leading the group for 10+ years, and board member of the California Immunization Coalition. He served on the Executive Committee of Centinela Hospital where he was Chairman of their Peer Review Committee. He has served on the Physician Quality Committee for LA Care and as a medical director/consultant. Dr. Brooks is past-president of the Golden State (CA) Medical Association and past president of the Miller-Lawrence Medical and Dental Society, both components of the National Medical Association.

6. Dr. Lewis Hsu

Dr. Hsu is a pediatric hematologist who is dedicated to finding cures for sickle cell disease and improving treatment and education until cures can be found. He joined University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) as director of the Sickle Cell Center and Professor of Pediatrics in July 2011. He led large pediatric sickle cell programs at Emory University, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, and Children’s National Medical Center. His clinical and translational research experience include multicenter landmark clinical trials of sickle cell stroke prevention and bone marrow transplantation and contributing to studies on inflammation and nitric oxide in mouse models of sickle cell disease.

He has published over fifty peer-reviewed papers, mentored numerous physicians and graduate students, and contributed to four sickle cell websites devoted to patient education. He has also co-authored a book, now in its third edition, entitled “Hope and Destiny: The Patient and Parent’s Guide to Sickle Cell Disease and Sickle Cell Trait.” In addition to sickle cell disease, his clinical interests include thalassemia and adolescent transition. Among his research interests are sickle cell disease, health education, bone marrow transplantation, inflammation and vasculopathy, and health disparities. In addition to English, Dr. Hsu speaks Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin), and a little Portuguese.

7. Dr. Meena Singh 

Twitter: @drmeenahsingh

Dr. Meena Singh is a board-certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon. She attended Harvard Medical School, trained at the Mayo Clinic, and completed a surgical fellowship in New York City. In New York she trained in Mohs Micrographic Surgery, as well as cosmetic dermatology procedures, such as Botox, lasers, and fillers. She also completed a fellowship with the International Society for Hair Restoration Surgery under world-renowned surgeon Dr. Marc Avram.

Dr. Singh specializes in medical treatments for hair loss of all types. She also has an interest in treating ethnic skin/skin of color. Dr. Singh has performed clinical trials in laser hair stimulation, as well as studies in hair transplantation for scarring and non-scarring forms of hair loss. She has also performed investigative studies on skin cancer in transplant recipients, as well as tissue engineering. She has numerous publications in many peer-reviewed dermatology journals, book chapters, and has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine. She is a reviewer for the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology and the Dermatologic Surgery journal. Dr. Singh has also been featured on the cover of New York Times.

8. Dr. Austin Chiang

Twitter: @austinchiangmd

Dr. Austin Chiang is a triple board-certified, dual ivy-league (Harvard, Columbia) educated and trained gastroenterologist and advanced endoscopist. Dr. Chiang’s interests include novel endoscopic weight loss treatments as well as complex interventional endoscopic procedures including the diagnosis and treatment of various gastrointestinal conditions and their complications. These include a variety of cancers affecting the gastrointestinal tract such as the pancreas, bile duct, esophagus, stomach, colon, and liver cancers.

Dr. Chiang is currently an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Jefferson Health (Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals) in Philadelphia, PA, and serves as the Director of the Endoscopic Weight Loss Program and Chief Medical Social Media Officer for the health system. Having trained at the only dedicated bariatric endoscopy program, he is one of few triple board-certified advanced endoscopy-trained physicians in the world. His triple-board certifications include Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology, and Obesity Medicine.

Chiang served as a resident contributor of the ABC News Medical Unit. Furthermore, he serves on the editorial board of the leading gastroenterological newsletter, Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News, and was named one of the Top 200 Leaders in Innovation in Gastroenterology. He was also named 2018’s Healio Gastroenterology Disruptive Innovator of the Year, The Philadelphia Inquirer’s 2019 Influencers of Healthcare Rookie of the Year, and 2019 Medscape Top 20 Social Media Physicians.

9. Dr. Erica Montes

Instagram: @the.modern.mujer

Dr. Erica Montes is a Board-Certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist and a Fellow of the American College of OB/GYN. Born and raised in Texas, she graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BA degree in Biology with Honors. She received her medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. She completed her residency at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center-Parkland Hospital where she was elected one of three chief residents at the largest program in the nation.

She is robotically trained on the daVinci Robotic Surgical System and excels in minimally invasive surgical procedures and in-office procedures. Medical interests include low- and high-risk obstetrics, contraception, treatment options for abnormal uterine bleeding, and gynecologic surgery. She also believes preventive care is one of the most important aspects of medicine including immunizations. She was awarded “Arizona Big Shot” in 2014 by the Arizona Partnership for Immunization. In addition to her excellent clinical skills, Dr. Montes is fluent in both Spanish and English. She encourages patients to be active in their health care decisions. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and sons.

10. Dr. Dorothy Rhoades

Since 2000, Dr. Rhoades has served as a Native Investigator and Measurement and Methods Core Director for the Native Elder Research Center, which is funded by the NIH Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research. She also held an appointment as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Division of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) Programs at the University of Colorado at Denver (UCD) and as a Hospitalist and Attending Physician with Group Health Permanente at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, WA.

Rhoades’ past research has focused on expanding partnerships with AI/AN communities, equipping AI/AN investigators for successful research careers, and promoting a program of research that holds promise for reducing the disparities in health status and care within these special populations.

Rhoades received her medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco and her public health degree from the University of Washington. She is a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma. She is currently the Director of American Indian Cancer Research Initiatives, Stephenson Cancer Center, Oklahoma City, OK.

*Doctors listed in no partcular order

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