HBCU grad makes history as Vanderbilt’s first Black female neurosurgery resident

Neurological surgery resident Tamia Potter

A Florida A&M University graduate is making history by becoming the first Black woman to train at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee as a neurosurgery resident.

When she begins her residency, Tamia Potter will become the first Black female resident in the neurological surgery department at Vanderbilt University College of Medicine in its 148-year history. The 2018 FAMU graduate received the news on National Match Day, when graduate medical students learn where they will be heading for residency training.

According to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges, more women are becoming doctors, but only about 5.7% of physicians in the U.S. identify as Black or African American. A 2019 report found that as of 2018, there were only 33 Black women in the entire country who practice neurological surgery.

The VUMC neurosurgery department congratulated their three new residents — Potter, Alan Tang and Freddy Vallejo — on Twitter.

After graduating from FAMU, Potter received a full tuition scholarship to study at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine.

Following the match at Vanderbilt, she shared a video on Twitter showing her on the phone learning that she is the first Black woman to train at Vanderbilt’s neurosurgery department.

“My first job was a certified nursing assistant at 17 years old in 2014. Today, on March 17, 2023, I was blessed to be selected as the first African American female neurosurgery resident to train at @VUMC_Neurosurg,” she wrote in the Tweet.

Congratulations have been pouring in for Potter, with Twitter users praising the soon-to-be neurosurgeon, with one user telling her to be careful “on all that glass around you from the broken ceiling.”

The Project Diversify Medicine account shared a video of the moment Potter found out she would be going to Vanderbilt, writing, “The first Black Female Neurosurgeon Resident at Vanderbilt since opening their medical school in 1874. It has taken 148 years for this moment to become reality. Let that sink in.”


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