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Doctors Team Up with Disney Junior

We were all kids once, with dreams of being doctors, lawyers and everything in between. But coming up during a time when there wasn’t much representation of color in these fields, it wasn’t always easy to attain.

Nowadays, with organizations such as the Artemis Medical Society and children TV shows like Doc McStuffins, we see those color and gender biases that have long plagued our professional workforce slowly disintegrating.

AMS is a nonprofit group of nearly 3,000 physician women of color from around the world. They are currently partnering with Disney Junior on a nationwide tour for their popular preschool TV show Doc McStuffins, which follows the life of a six year-old African-American girl who “fixes” and “heals” her sick and broken toys in hopes of becoming a doctor like her mother.

Dr. Myiesha Taylor, 39, president of AMS, was once that little girl with dreams of working in medicine. Now, she’s not only living out her own dreams, but helping little kids follow theirs as well through Disney Junior’s Doc McStuffins Mobile Tour.

JETMag.com caught up with Dr. Taylor to talk more about how she and the ladies of AMS got involved with the DocMobile Tour and why she thinks it’s important to have shows like Doc McStuffins on television. She also talks about why the world needs more doctors of color and gives a little advice for parents with kids who may have dreams of becoming one.

JET: As a doctor who probably doesn’t have time to watch much TV, how did you find out about Doc McStuffins?

Dr. Taylor: Well I have two daughters and a son. I recorded a couple of episodes and watched with my daughter Hannah, who was 4 years old at the time, and I was just really impressed with the show. I was amazed that it was on the air and I became an instant fan. It’s educational for the children. The show had a lot of good tips for staying healthy. It goes through a lot of good tools that the doctors use…And what’s amazing about the show is that the leading character is this young girl…a girl of color, which is kind of a novel concept these days.

JET: How did you get involved with the Doc McStuffins show and the DocMobile Tour? 

Dr. Taylor: I connected with other physician friends of mine and I said, “We really should send Disney a thank-you because this is really a novel concept and they kind of went out on a limb here.”

The way we showed our appreciation is, we compiled our pictures into a collage and sent them out and said, “Thank you. We are all Doc McStuffins. We were this little girl with dreams and aspirations of becoming a doctor and we didn’t really have a lot of role models growing up and we appreciate this show and what you’ve created. We’re out here. We exist. Thank you.”

Basically, Disney and their PR persons contacted me and said, “We got your tweets and your messages and emails”… They contacted me and said, “literally we’re in tears because when we create shows, we’re kind of in a bubble here and we don’t know how well received they’ll be…So to get this kind of feedback, it really means a lot to us. So thank you and whenever you’re out in Los Angeles, we’d love to have lunch.” For the tour, they asked our input, like “what sorts of things do you think children would be interested in learning?” So we kind of collaborated a bit on ideas.

JET: What can kids expect from the DocMobile Tour? What happens during these mobile clinics? 

Dr. Taylor: We [real doctors] talk to them. We take pictures with them. We teach them how to do a physical examination on their teddy bear or doll. If they want us to sign something, we can. They go in the clinic, meet docs, see clinic tools. We listen to your heart, take your blood pressure, give stickers and treats and things like that.

JET: Why do you think it’s so important to have doctors of color represented in the medicine field?

Dr. Taylor: Without diversity in our physician workforce, we can’t take care of the American population. You need Black doctors in the physician workforce so that we can all learn from each other and so that science and studies can be done on all people. We know that certain diseases and presentations of illnesses look different depending on your gender, on your race, on where you live. That’s why this cartoon is not just a cartoon. It’s so big for the world.

JET: Why do you think it’s important to have shows like Doc McStuffins?  

Dr. Taylor: If the doctors are stuck in the clinic and we’re not on TV, we don’t have this avenue to show and demonstrate that we’re here. People can’t find us. So that’s why this show helped us solidify that message. This is not just a show for preschoolers. This is a show that demonstrates to everybody that doctors can look like us.

So in 18 or 20 years, it won’t be weird to see somebody who looks like me walk into the room and say “I’m the doctor.” So with the Disney tour, going around and being able to be a real, live person manifestation of this show is an honor. It’s not all fantasy. It’s to show the kids and the parents, that we exist, we’re here. This is not just for play. It’s for real. It’s something that has been an amazing experience.

JET: You’re the president of Artemis Medical Society. What can you tell our readers about this organization? 

Dr. Taylor: We created Artemis Medical Society to kind of change the face of medicine so that people would have available mentors. We have networking opportunities, workshops, conferences, things in the community, so that people can have access to us as physicians. It’s not just Black physicians, but physicians of color, all nationalities and women, particularly because we are underrepresented in this physician workforce. Artemis helps to keep our women involved in medicine and not quit, not walk away, not get disenfranchised. That’s important, especially in 2014, because we’re going to need all hands on deck.

JET: You grew up in a family of physicians, but as a child, did you ever want to be anything other than a doctor? 

Dr. Taylor: I never had an idea to be anything else really because my mom made science and medicine so interesting as a nurse. Bringing home stories and pieces of paper or medical records for my stuffed animals. Buying gauze and things. So you can imagine, when I’m watching this show and she’s putting these little stuffed animals back together, I’m like “I think Disney was peeking into my playroom.” It seems like they were right outside my window, because this was exactly what I used to do.

JET: What would be your advice to children who want to be doctors when they grow up?

Dr. Taylor: For those children’s parents, I would say support their creative play and invest in them. Encourage them, let them know they can do it. Their chances of becoming a doctor far exceed their chances of becoming the next Beyonce. Our community needs doctors, so they’ll have a job, they’ll have financial security. Also, as they get older, I’d seek out a mentor [in the medicine field].

The DocMobile Clinic still has a couple more stops left on their nationwide tour. Catch them when they come to a city near you!

Los Angeles | The Grove | Thursday, September 26th 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Phoenix | Saturday, September 28th 7:30 am – 3 p.m. | Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Community Center

For more information, please visit the DocMobile Tour WEBSITE.