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Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor's Reflections on Race and Medicine

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  3,507 ratings  ·  472 reviews
One doctor's passionate and profound memoir of his experience grappling with race, bias, and the unique health problems of black Americans

When Damon Tweedy begins medical school,he envisions a bright future where his segregated, working-class background will become largely irrelevant. Instead, he finds that he has joined a new world where race is front and center. The reci
Hardcover, 294 pages
Published September 8th 2015 by Picador
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Elle There are only a couple mentions of indigenous peoples in the book, and very little discussion about how they are treated.

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Petra Kiss
This is the second book I've read recently about African-American men from backgrounds where people do not traditionally become professionals, becoming successful doctors and professors. Both were addressing the racism inherent in the medical school acceptance system and in health care itself. Both books were interesting and hardly overlapped. The other book was High Price: A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society. Both are very wor ...more
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who want to understand more about medicine and race
If there is one thing that can pull me out of my traditional genres, it's a meditation on modern medicine. Combine that with a memoir from an under-represented demographic, and it was only a moment before I grabbed it off the library display.

I've been working in the hospital setting in the upper midwest for over fifteen years, and I can count on one hand the number of black doctors I've met (interestingly, the two that first come to mind are surgeons), so I was particularly interested in what I
Jessica Woodbury
I love medical memoirs, and right now I am constantly reading about the state of race in the US so this book hit a real sweet spot for me. Tweedy may not be the same kind of writer as Atul Gawande, he is more straightforward and simple, but that makes him a great source for a book like this.

Tweedy has broken down the issues facing Black Americans as patients and as doctors so that each chapter examines one in detail. It also follows him through his training and practice chronologically so that
*Thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan-Picador for the opportunity to read and review an ARC of this book.

Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor's Journey Through Race, Medicine, and Inequality is a memoir by Damon Tweedy, a black male who grew up in a largely blue collar family, and went on to pursue higher education and ultimately medical school (*Note: throughout this review, I am using the same terms as the author, who used the terms “black” and “white” primarily rather than “African-American” and
Joy D
“By sharing my story, as well as the stories of some of the patients I’ve met over the past fifteen years, I hope to humanize the dire statistics and bitter racial debates and paint a fuller picture of the experiences of black patients, as well as that of the black doctors who navigate between the black community and the predominately white medical world.” – Damon Tweedy, M.D., Black Man in a White Coat

Memoir about Damon Tweedy’s journey in medicine, from his college enrollment through internshi
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
Lately I have been reading a number of books about medicine and about race in America, so this one hit a sweet spot for me, although I am neither African-American nor in the medical field. But this book is particularly good, as a memoir, as it deals with medicine and medical training, and as it deals with race, so I would recommend it to a wide audience.

When Damon Tweedy started medical school, he was disheartened to hear of nearly every disease, “more common in blacks,” and soon saw health dis
Sarah Weathersby
This was a book club selection for one of my Book Clubs. I would call it an outstanding book to read. When Damon Tweedy entered medical school at Duke University, he expected a promising career which would give him the opportunity to serve the community. What he learned repeatedly is, "Being Black is bad for your health." His professors highlighted the instances of poor blacks with no health insurance who can't afford the treatments they need, as well as the lack of health services for blacks in ...more
Jul 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Race has become a huge issue over the past year. After the church shootings at the AME church in Charleston, South Carolina, some of the women of our church decided to get together and read. Each of us would read a different book on the subject of race and report back in a month. It would open a discussion for us on the different aspects of racism in our society, and how we can effectively combat it. Having my career in the medical ...more
La'Tonya Rease Miles
Sep 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
No lie: after reading this book, I went and had my blood pressure and cholesterol checked. Tweedy makes a very compelling case for the interconnectedness between poverty, racism and communal health. You can tell that he probably has spent some time around either low-key racists or skeptics because he builds his points quite carefully. He's definitely not a ranter.

One of the most compelling moments arrives right at the beginning when he recalls one of his medical school professors who mistook hi
A quick, easy, and educational read about the ramifications of being black, be it a patient or doctor, in the US medical system. Not likely to get any awards for best book of the year due to its simple writing style. It's not a bad book, it's just not particularly enthralling in the way that a book like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (which dealt with similar/overlapping topics) was. However, I (a public health grad student) would definitely recommend it to students of public health and me ...more
Book Riot Community
A look at one man’s experiences as a black doctor and how the issues of race have influenced him. For example, on his first day at Duke University medical school, one of his professors assumed he was a custodian and asked him to fix the lightbulbs. This was in the 1990s. WTF. It’s been a really interesting book so far (I’m not quite finished). I like that Tweedy doesn’t shy away from his own prejudices that he had and learned to overcome in his practice.

— Kristen McQuinn

from The Best Books We Re
 Sarah Lumos
I appreciated Dr. Damon Tweedy’s willingness to address this difficult and uncomfortable topic with poise. He gives readers an inside scope on the role race, prejudice, and bias plays in medicine. Since Tweedy grew up in an impoverished neighborhood, nobody expected him to become a working professional. Though he was able to beat the odds, his road to psychiatry was rough. He recounts being discriminated against at the Duke University School of Medicine. For example, there was an incident where ...more
He offers a good basic overview of the issues that contribute to health disparities between whites and people of color, particularly Black people. But his scope is a little too limited for me. I would have preferred that he spend more time on issues of systemic racism. Instead he spent a lot of time on the personal -- doctor's own biases, patient lifestyle choices, etc. His thinking seems very literal and surface-based. His discussions about empathy seemed weirdly stiff, but earnest. I was think ...more
Dec 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
_Black Man in a White Coat_ is my favorite kind of memoir: simultaneously introspective and socially aware. Tweedy's life experiences shed light on the complexities of being a Black doctor in a system characterized by racial disparity. However, he also allows his research about these disparities to shape the way he understands his own experiences.

The book is scrupulously researched, and well-written (though not poetic: it is written in a journalistic style, without literary aspirations). What mo
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
An interesting and a well written memoir by Dr Damon Tweedy, a youngish, black, medical doctor. A rich book, a lot of information about common health issues affecting black and white people but in a different way. It seems that black people are weaker and more vulnerable to heart problems, hypertension... I learned quite a bit.
Also a personal memoir, unfortunately a lot of racial discrimination for the young fellow which he luckily overcame thankfully to his knowledge and dedication as a medical
Jun 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Tweedy tells the story of his life in medical school, residency and in medical practice as a black man. He attended Duke University Medical School in 1996. He tells the story of his humiliation of being mistaken for a maintenance worker by his professor. He says he felt uncomfortable and like an outsider all during his schooling at Duke. He also discusses the affirmative action and how helpful it has been to the minority.

The author also delves into his health problems. He goes into depth about h
Nov 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Extraordinary!! Everyone should read this book. Moving and very thought-provoking memoir from a black doctor who grew up in DC area, went to medical school at Duke, and worked in rural clinics, Duke hospital, and inner city Grady hospital (trauma center in Atlanta). A lot to learn here about medical education, communication between doctors and patients, and effects of race and socioeconomics on health and health care delivery. Insightful, poetic, self-aware about the judgments we make about ours ...more
Jeff Wong
Nov 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is an important book. The author reflects on his time as a medical student, resident and now an attending physician at Duke University Medical Center. There are also some parts of the book when he was visiting at Grady Medical Center in Atlanta. The racism and injustice and prejudice that he experiences is quite recent -- within this century -- as this top notch medical center strives to move into the 21st century. I trained at Duke 10 years before Dr. Tweedy but his narrative runs totally ...more
This is such an eye opening book and narrative of this wonderful psychiatrist. We all know and hear about the horrible effects of racism on almost every facet of life, yet there's always more to know, more to feel, and more to do. It is very interesting seeing the blind spots we as humans, as well as the systems in place, have with regards to racism as well as counter-racism. Highly recommended! ...more
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Damon Tweedy does not have suggestions about how to organize the American health care system. He does not have suggestions about how to make the society more equitable racially. This is not that kind of book. Whatever political fights there are around the issue of health care, they are not here.

The subtitle says it: “A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine.” Like any good memoir, there is insight aplenty into the implications of one person’s thoughtful recollection of experience.

I should say
Jun 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book, a reflection on race and medicine from Black physician Dr. Damon Tweedy. I also found it frustrating at times. Dr. Tweedy seems to have been quite conscious of the largely white audience who would read this book, and takes great pains to pull them along very slowly to the idea that worse outcomes for Black Americans may be related to more than individual poor choices. Throughout the book, when discussing health outcomes affected by systematic racism and other structural issu ...more
Apr 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very touching and a candid look regarding being African American male in a largely white medical field. I shed a few tears but it was extremely informative and moving. The main takeaway was that an Ivy League education does not isolate an ethnic group from bias or racist viewpoints from both the industry, co-workers or patients. But through a willingness to be the best that you can be, you can make a difference. Excellent:)

A few interesting quotes:
A patient at one of the local clients meeting,
freddie berg
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Had the good fortune of attending a presentation by the author, who also submitted to Q&A format, and questions and comments from the audience. Immediate reaction, this is not just the author's story. He is also telling the stories of colleagues, teachers, and patients. Listening to questions, both formal and informal, realized the author has more to express than on the pages of his current book. Could not stop myself from emailing and contacting friends and others who could relate to my reactio ...more
Douglas Graney
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting combination of race and medicine. Dr. Damon Tweedy’s career has many situations where differences between black and white affects the treating of patients. If you’re not afraid to confront the race issue vis-a-vis medicine, get this.
Required reading for anyone in the medical field

My school’s book club is having a discussion with the author, I’ll update afterward, but I’m so excited to meet him and talk about this amazing book.
Bryan Seaford
Nov 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent read, highly recommend.
Jimmy Salamie
May 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Very well written book. I always love the books that spark introspection.
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
In Black Man in a White Coat Dr. Tweedy uses clinical anecdotes and stories from his own experiences as a patient to highlight inequities in healthcare training, access, and delivery. Though the prose is simple rather than sparkling, I found this book to be a very accessible and essential read. I wish I had read it before my third year of medical school -- some of his points about affirmative action, teenage pregnancy, and homophobia in the black community were especially interesting and I think ...more
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting book about race and medicine. The book details the medical, psychological, and sociological factors that contribute to the poor health of the average black people as compared to the average white person. It also discusses the plight of the black medical student. The author was actually asked by a medical professor if he was there to fix the lights. It also includes a very thoughtful section on race and HIV. The book can at times be preachy but is an important and timely book
Melodi H.
Jul 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was so good, a must read for anyone going into healthcare. I really enjoyed how Tweedy analyzed and confronted his own personal biases and shed light on the health disparities that plague Black people. As a future physician, I will be certain to carry the lessons learned from this book into my practice.
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