We’re shining the ProjectIMPACT Spotlight on Mona Gohara, MD, an individual who is making a positive impact in healthcare by reducing racial bias in medicine. Dr. Gohara is interviewed by Callyn Iwuala, 4th-year medical student at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University and VisualDx Student Advisory Board member.
Please describe your job and your favorite aspects of your current position
Dr. Gohara: I’m a medical dermatologist in private practice in Connecticut. My practice is comprised of suburban andurban environments and I have two offices.
I love being able to teach medical students, collaborate with colleagues and industry members, and engage with the public via social media to talk about skin health.
I am also passionate about increasing representation in dermatology. It is not just about seeing patients; it is about working with different people from various areas to increase awareness about skin health.
What do you see are the biggest challenges in reducing bias in healthcare?
Dr. Gohara: In dermatology and medicine, the biggest challenge is increasing diversity in the workforce. I believe that starts from college and even high school. Minority students need to be encouraged to pursue the sciences.
Biases will be minimized when there is adequate representation. It is not the sole responsibility of minority physicians to minimize these biases.
Educating and encouraging physicians who do not identify as minorities on how to identify their own personal biases would also minimize bias. I am currently working on integrating this discourse into residency program curricula.
What are you currently working on that addresses healthcare equity?
Dr. Gohara: I am the founding DEI chair of the DEI committee as part of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS). It is a very active group that has done legislative work for LGBTQ+ communities. Charging a progressive committee that prioritizes such issues is something that I am proud of. It is important to do things beyond my local community and to do things on a national level, like legislative work, to make health equitable for all.
Dr. Gohara: People who walk the walk and talk the talk inspire me. People who are trying to move the needle inspire me.
Dr. Pearl Grimes is a Black female dermatologist who is an international leader. Think about what she went through to get to where she is to become who she is today. Nevertheless, she persisted.
She blazed the trail for many people in dermatology. She always finds the time to mentor people and always finds the time to contribute to her community. She does not let her success hinder the idea that change is a continual process.
What advice would you give to medical students or residents interested in addressing healthcare disparities?
Dr. Gohara: Always be confident in what your abilities are. We will always face somebody who says, “you can’t do it.” For every naysayer, there will be many others who will support you. You can accomplish anything you want to accomplish. Identifying a mentor will make that journey less overwhelming.
Have confidence and seek mentorship. That is a winning combination.
How do you pledge to make an impact to improve health equity?
Dr. Gohara: I pledge to not take my foot off the gas, to not be influenced to decelerate. The job is never done. We must keep forging forward regardless of the obstacles that may be in our way.
This Project IMPACT blog series was created to highlight leaders who are making a positive impact in healthcare by reducing racial bias in medicine.