Standing on her Shoulders: Celebrating Meta L. Christy, DO, and African American Alumnae Trailblazers
Family Medicine/Urgent Care Specialist, Greater Atlanta, Georgia
“Frequently, I see at least one Black patient who says to me, ‘I don’t want to embarrass you, but I just feel really proud to see you.’ And that makes me feel happy. … I do have experience with microaggressions. My badge says ‘Dr.’ in big capital letters. But when someone wants to call me by my first name, I just address it: ‘I prefer to be called Dr. Houston, and I’ll address you as Mr. So and So.’ There’s no easy way to deal with it when someone calls you ‘girl.’ It’s something that you get used to—maybe desensitized to. … Things that I’ve gone through in my own life have given me a sense of being humble. I come from a small town in Louisiana that was one of the last strongholds against desegregation, with a clear divide between the haves and have-nots. I see patients dealing with similar financial circumstances and health issues that my own family members have been through. So I definitely have a sense of empathy and understanding for their situations. … Watching my grandfather struggle with illness, I became fascinated with all things medical. Why did people have to suffer and die from Alzheimer’s like my grandfather did, and how could they be treated and possibly cured? I dreamed of being the first in my family to leave our small town, the first to get a college degree. After college, I worked with the National Institutes of Health as a microbiologist. I decided to pursue an advanced degree in biology and ultimately completed a master’s degree. … I had pictured medical school as a storm, but it was more like a Category 4 hurricane. That first year was the most difficult of my life. But I began to excel, to persevere, and to thrive. … I’m interested in the education and mentoring of other medical residents and other future physicians. I’ll tell them, ‘Be confident in yourself and your training and your past; let that be a positive; and don’t let any situation make you feel inferior.’ … You know, it’s easy to make a diagnosis, but it’s harder to change the mind of a patient, to have difficult discussions with a patient. … There just aren’t enough hours or years in medical school to teach you everything you need to know about interacting with patients. You just have to get out there and do it.”
as told to Janice Fisher
Read more stories from African American female physicians, leaders and health professionals.
Digest, the magazine for alumni and friends of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, is published by the Office of Marketing and Communications. The magazine reports on osteopathic and other professional trends of interest to alumni of the College’s Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) and graduate programs at PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia.