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Black History Month Feature: Diversity in Healthcare

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — All month you’ve heard the saying “representation matters” and it definitely rings true in healthcare.

“Sometimes if they see a person like me, I’ve had black people come and say ‘I didn’t know we had this black doctor’ or something, so I think that’s really important because if they see us, then they can relate better than that.” if they saw someone who was not their color,” said Dr. Sonja Calliste Nurse Practitioner.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, only about 5% of all practicing physicians in the United States are black. It’s as shocking statistics as Calliste says inspired her to pursue a career in healthcare.

“Sometimes I have to pinch myself to see if it’s really real because I never would have believed if someone told me 20 years ago that I was going to be the first African American Dual Board Certified RN here, I’d say no,” Calliste said.

Achievements like becoming the first African-American in town to become Dual Board certified have been big feats, but it hasn’t been easy.

“In one particular office where I worked, there were only two of us African American providers, and we were both female, and we were told we could not call ourselves Dr. Calliste Nurse Practitioner, because it could be confusing for patients and other providers who they didn’t have the same education that we had.

Those views only fueled her to work harder. Now she says her focus is on mental health, a field she says needs more representation now more than ever.

“I’m an advocate for those who don’t have the voice to speak for themselves, so I enjoy my sanity. I also enjoy family practice, but right now my heart is in sanity.

As for the next generation of professionals, he advises them to move forward.

“Go ahead, they’re needed. There are so many opportunities out there for you to do family or psychiatry, and so I was just a girl who believed in myself and I did.”

Now he’s encouraging others to do the same! You can learn more about Dr. Calliste by clicking here.

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