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Patient Stories

First All Black, Female OB-GYN Resident Team Fights Health Disparities

5 OB-GYN Residents Are the Future of Medicine

Black women are six times more likely to die of a pregnancy-related condition compared to non-Hispanic white women in Illinois. On a national scale, Black, Native American and Alaska Native women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women.

A crucial step toward eliminating health disparities in obstetrics is having health care providers who look like and better understand Black patients. This builds trust, as it helps patients feel like their providers understand their life experiences. It can also lead to better health outcomes.

Enter the OB-GYN resident team at Northwestern Medicine Prentice Women's Hospital in 2020. They weren't the first Black female residents, but as the first known all Black, all female OB-GYN resident team at hospital, they're true pioneers. The team included:

  • Luce Kassi, MD, third-year resident currently
  • Constants Adams, MD, who was a fourth-year resident and is now an attending physician
  • Eseohi Ehimiaghe, MD, second-year resident currently
  • Tamara Weddington, MD, second-year resident
  • Mary Tate, MD, fourth-year resident

They represent the future of medicine. They stand on the shoulders of giants.

Paving the Way

Tacoma McKnight, MD, was the second Black, female OB-GYN resident at Prentice Women's Hospital and the first Black, female faculty at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. McKnight is also an OB-GYN attending faculty member at Prentice. She is excited to train this next generation of physicians, as she did not have anyone to pave the way for her during her residency.

"In my case, while there wasn't anyone standing in my pathway of progress, there wasn't anyone behind me or underneath me to push me along and create that progress that I so desired," says Dr. McKnight. "It's a joy to work with this group of residents and it's an exciting reflection of what the world could be."

This group of residents is committed to making progress for young women who aspire to be physicians someday. They advocate for patients who look like them as well.

"I Wanted To Be Able To Help People Like Me"

For Dr. Adams, her desire to provide better care to people of color is personal. Dr. Adams' mother ran an organization that helped women with HIV. As a child, she observed how much of an impact physicians could make, even when a patient was very sick. She wanted to make this kind of a difference.

"I wanted to be able to help people like me," says Dr. Adams. "Now, I'm able to actually listen and stop somebody and really advocate for them. I think my Black patients feel safe and seen."

Dr. Adams can think of countless times when Black patients were excited and relieved to see her — and her former fellow residents — walk into their rooms in white coats.

"I walked back into this patient's room, and her mom was tearful," says Adams. "Her mom was just like, 'I've never seen a Black doctor.' And now there's five of us."

Dr. Adams not only advocates for Black patients she treats daily, but she also advocates for tearing down the health disparities that Black people face everywhere. Dr. Adams has presented research on the Black community's distrust in medicine, going back to medical experiments done on slaves.

"It's really difficult for people to find doctors that are Black or Latinx, and so when patients find that, they kind of feel safe, and they feel more comforted," she says.

"Find Our People"

Each of the residents said they researched Northwestern Medicine extensively before applying to their residency program. They wanted to ensure that there were physicians and leaders who looked like them.
"I feel like a lot of us were looking for a place where we could find our people," says Dr. Kassi. "We certainly found our people at Northwestern Medicine, and hope to inspire the future generation of medicine to find theirs."

Northwestern Medicine Feinberg School of Medicine
Tacoma McKnight, MD
Tacoma McKnight, MD
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Associate Professor, Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Primary Specialty Obstetrics and Gynecology
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