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Our current series on Making and Maintaining a Neurosurgeon discusses how one transitions from student to resident to practicing neurosurgeon. In particular, we highlight what our field is doing to improve diversity and the importance of mentorship to those considering neurosurgery. How impactful can a mentor be? Incredibly. Especially when it comes to forging a path few before have traveled.

This cross-post highlights the impact mentorship had on one newly minted physician, Tamia Potter, MD, who just became the first black female neurosurgery resident at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. Her story made across the country, and she describes those who have inspired her along the way.

“As a child, watching my mom, a nurse, care for patients — I was always questioning why the body works the way it does,” said Dr. Potter. “I knew [then] I wanted to learn and understand how the brain and nervous system worked; I wanted to be a neurosurgeon.”

Only about 5.7% of physicians in the United States identify as Black or African American, according to recent data from the Association of American Medical Colleges. Dr. Potter stresses the importance of the many mentors who have been just as instrumental throughout medical school. She recognizes her responsibility as a mentor for future students, “I didn’t get here by myself.”

to read the full article published by Case Western Reserve University.

Editor’s Note: We hope you will share what you learn from our posts in the Making and Maintaining a Neurosurgeon series. We invite you to join the conversation on Twitter by following @Neurosurgery and using the hashtag #Neurosurgery.

Krystal L. Tomei, MD, MPH, FAANS, FACS, FAAP

Cleveland, Ohio

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