Why This Black Doctor is Advocating for Women’s Health
Two percent of practicing physicians are Black women. This National doctors day, we’re highlighting a woman a part of the 2%, whose platform supports women of all ages. We’re pleased to introduce Dr. Charis Chambers, M.D. Dr. Charis is passionate about educating young girls and women on their reproductive health to promote self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-advocacy.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? When did you know you wanted to be a Doctor?
Dr. Charis shared how she wanted to be a singer growing up. She sang in the church choir, and her community was very supportive. She enjoyed singing, but when she got older, she enjoyed math and science.
Her love for math and science sparked an interest in her being a math teacher. However, when she got to college, she decided she wanted to be a doctor. Her father is the first physician in her family, and he loves his impactful work. From there, she was sold and followed her dream and desire to be a doctor.
What kept you motivated while striving to become a doctor?
Dr. Charis shared how she has a very encouraging family. Her loving family kept her motivated because they believe in her dreams. They did not pressure her, but they emphasized how she was more than capable of achieving her goal.
Her faith in God also kept her motivated. She believes that God gave her the desire, so she followed through. Lastly, she dismissed the naysayers. She ignored everybody who discouraged her. Her advice is not to let people discourage you. Your dream will always be too big for people who gave up on theirs.
Top 3 self-care tips that all women should do/ have in their routine
#1: Celebrate everything!
Dr. Charis celebrated her first test in medical school when she passed certain exams and specific milestones. She recommends celebrating everything, especially when you have a long journey ahead, like a career in medicine. To not get discouraged in the process, celebrate the little wins.
She also recommends that people celebrate the daily wins. She has a daily “did it” list. Write down everything you did that made you happy, and at the end of the day, you can refer to everything you did because YOU DID IT!
#2: Speaking kindly to yourself
Dr. Charis recommends that you focus on the words you say to yourself and your children. Change the internal questions to yourself. Change “why am I so lazy?” to “why am I so talented?” or “why am I so incredible?”
#3: Be grounded in your faith
Dr. Charis recommends daily prayer and meditation. Make time for the things that sustain you. Everything that keeps you centered, focus on that.
You highlight how only 2% of black women are doctors. Can you talk about the importance of the representation of black women in medicine?
Dr. Charis shares how representation of black women matters in medicine because it’s inspiring to see someone who looks like you doing something that is “difficult” or a “position of power.” Doctors can save lives and help people; they are in a powerful and privileged place.
Dr. Charis shares how having doctors who look like you leads to better outcomes for black moms and babies and a better community.
What is one piece of advice you would give to kids who want to be doctors?
“Identify your why!” Dr. Charis states, “identify the reasoning behind what you’re doing. Life will present you with 1 million reasons why you shouldn’t do it. So don’t allow those negative reasons to overwhelm you. Keep your why at the forefront of your mind.”
Her why is to impact women and the way they see their bodies. When she was the only black girl in the room, or when her curly hair did not fit the mold, it didn’t deter her because her why was more prominent than her circumstances. Your why creates a clear vision for you and your purpose.
Advice to parents to help them heighten their child’s self-esteem?
#1: Kids are constant sponges
Dr. Charis shares that parents need to understand that their children are constantly observing them. The ways that parents interact with their hair, body, and everything around them. Kids are aware, so watch when you speak poorly about yourself and your surroundings.
#2: Make it a priority to fulfill your dream
Dr. Charis states, go after your dreams. Wear your natural hair. Be fearless and courageous. This will impact your child’s self-esteem.
#3: Encourage your kids to pursue things
Dr. Charis encourages parents to support their children and push them to pursue things. Especially tough things. To teach children that challenges are okay, growth is okay, and change is necessary.
How can parents start to teach their children before they become teenagers the importance of their health?
Dr. Charis encourages parents to interact with children in a simple way when they’re young—for example, showing them their mouth and their nose. She welcomes parents to include functions (i.e., this is your mouth, and you brush your teeth to keep your mouth healthy). She encourages parents to promote early understanding and to use anatomical names.
She also encourages parents to take their children to their well-child visits. To make the well-child visits convenient and fun, explaining to their child that they go to be “nice and healthy, big and strong.”Ensuring the interactions with their bodies and their doctors are always positive.
Lastly, she states that parents should show their children that if a doctor does not listen to them, they need to get a new doctor. Dr. Charis tells all parents to advocate for their children, support their children, and show them that health is a priority.
Doctors impact so many lives. Having black women representation helps people feel heard and seen. Dr. Charis shared a quote, “you can’t be what you can’t see,” by Marian Wright Edleman. This resonates with us because we made Zoe so young girls can play with a doll that looks just like them.
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