Meet Imanni Sheppard, PhD (she/her/hers), Medical Education Facilitator, Assistant Professor, Co-Director of Bioethics and the Medical Humanities Curricula Thread. She has been at Carle Illinois College of Medicine for two years. If you want to discuss health disparities, medical inequities, the history of medicine, the medical humanities, racialized medicine, and/or bioethics in the U.S. or to if you want to talk to the first African American person in the US to graduate with a PhD in health humanities, feel free to connect with her in the community. #MemberSpotlight
Why do you think engaging in the AAMC Virtual Community is important?
Although varying technologies have allowed society to exist in a kind of global community, equitable access to healthcare and healthcare related services continue to be idiosyncratic at best and the manifestation of medical racism or structural violence at worst. Being in a virtual community (such as this) affords us the opportunity and space to address these issues in an ideological and practical way with like minded colleagues--perhaps ultimately allowing us to normalize and streamline systems of health equity.
Do you have a professional skill or area of expertise that might be of particular interest to your peers in this community? Are you the “go-to” person at your institution for advice or expertise in a particular subject?
I am the first African American person in the United States to get a PhD in the medical humanities and my masters degree is in medical anthropology. My lens is rooted in the oscillation or dialogue between those two fields--both of which requires you to examine the broader biopsychosocial, phenomenological, and socio-medical impact of healthcare as an institution and a culture.
So, I tend to push for medical school curricula to teach students to take those concepts into account, to be more humanistic, and to learn to provide holistic care, in the very least. Because of that, I am the "go-to" person when someone wants to critically assess the impact of the history of medicine on contemporary practices, health disparities, medical inequities, or the medical humanities.
What should people in the virtual community contact you about?
Folks can feel free to contact me to discuss health disparities, medical inequities, the history of medicine, the medical humanities, racialized medicine, and/or bioethics in the U.S.
What was the best book you most recently read?
Natalia Molina's book entitled: Fit to Be Citizens?
What’s the best piece of professional advice you have ever received?
Don't let other people define you or what you're capable of. It was both professional and personal advice. It was--and continues to be--important advice because the work of health equity and health activism is heavy and there are many barriers. So, you have to remember to keep trucking along.
What’s the worst piece of professional advice you have ever received?
"Examining the health of Black people is not medical anthropology. It's not about the culture of medicine. It's only Black history. You should only study in that department." It was terrible, unsolicited, hurtful advice that was also wildly unsound.
What do you think is the best, most challenging, or most unique thing about working in academic medicine?
The best and most challenging things about my work are helping to normalize and legitimize equitable healthcare and humanistic, day-to-day medical interactions.
What do you hope to gain from this online community?
The opportunity to work with like-minded colleagues to improve the practice and epistemologies of medicine.
Did you have an unusual path to your current career?
Yes, I was a freelance photographer and athletic trainer in undergrad then took a really interesting class in biological anthropology which led to becoming a medical anthropologist and later to a medical humanist. It was an odd journey but it was all connected in many ways.
How do you prefer to start your day?
With coffee or a really good shaken espresso
How do you prefer to end your day?
Falling asleep at a decent hour.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about your position?
That it's all about philosophy and is difficult to develop into practical medical engagements.
You’re throwing a dinner party and can invite 3 people (alive or dead). Who do you invite?
My mother, George Carlin, and Robin Williams
What do you do to turn things around when you’re having a bad day?
I pray or meditate through tough days.
If you could only have three apps on your smartphone, which would you pick?
Wooduko, pandora, and flipboard
What’s the weirdest food you’ve ever eaten?
Poisonous sea urchin
Say “hello” to Imanni here in the community! Feel free to post any questions you have for her in this blog post, or direct messages via the community are also a great way to connect.
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