5 AMA members who see advancing health equity as their mission
On the Northern Cheyenne reservation where Ciciley Littlewolf, MD, grew up, health inequities are the result of centuries of disinvestment and racist policies, but the AMA member and hospitalist wants others to know that her Native American culture is not only alive, but—despite the lack of resources—is thriving.
“We are ensuring our culture will not be forgotten as Native American medical students come through and work with us during their internal medicine rotation,” she says in an AMA video. “I do everything I can to mentor them, to encourage them.”
Dr. Littlewolf’s story is included in “Our Legacy in Practice: A Physician’s Story,” a series of video profiles in which physicians from historically marginalized populations and communities discuss their experiences, challenges and successes in medicine.
The featured AMA member physicians shared their journeys, and revealed what community and structural support, systemic challenges and barriers and cultural narratives they faced along the way.
“Becoming a doctor and learning Western medicine, it’s really important that I bring my own foundation and culture to my work environment,” says Dr. Littlewolf. She is a hospitalist in Fargo, North Dakota, with Sanford Health, which is a member of the AMA Health System Program that provides enterprise solutions to equip leadership, physicians and care teams with resources to help drive the future of medicine.
“I have made it my personal goal to help empower people to treat themselves and then provide access to culturally competent health care where they feel comfortable,” she adds. “I envision a patient from whatever walk of life they come from being able to go to the hospital and feel heard, feel like: This is a place where I can get healing.”
Dr. Littlewolf says the AMA is “a powerful resource,” especially for physicians in rural areas.
Seniormedical director of the Columbia Doctors Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, Dr. Ambrose is a child-and-adolescent psychiatrist and neuro interventionalist focusing on treatment-resistant mood disorders and novel therapeutic implementation in clinical medicine, such as, psychedelics and artificial intelligence.
Growing up in extreme poverty, Dr. Ambrose’s decision to pursue a career in medicine was inspired in part by watching his mother battle multiple bouts with cancer and struggle with mental health challenges. “She never let that stop her,” says Dr. Ambrose, an AMA member. “I saw all the barriers that she had to break through in order for her to get care.”
A family physician working as an ER Hospitalist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Dr. Guevara was born in Mexico to, and says his identity allows him to connect with his community.
“I have had multiple patients say: Wow, a Latino doctor here that speaks Spanish and you’re from Mexico and you will understand me. I’m so happy to see someone like you,” Dr. Guevara say. During his residency, Dr. Guevara developed curriculum and training on caring for LGBTQ+ patients and developed Institutional guidelines for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
He comes from a family of health care professionals: Both his grandmothers were nurses, his father is a neurologist and his mother is a nurse manager. “I wanted to do what they were all doing,” Dr. Guevara says. “I couldn’t envision myself anywhere else but at a doctor’s office.”
A third-year internal medicine resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Dr. Oboh comes from a Nigerian immigrant family and says she didn’t meet a Black doctor until she was in her 20s.
“Seeing the impact that I make just from being there—that fuels me to want to continue to figure out how to get more people of color into these spaces and into medicine,” Dr. Oboh says. “In the future, I want to see more people who look like me in med schools and in hospitals as physicians across the nation.”
Dr. Oboh cited Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA—an Atlanta psychiatrist who was the first Black woman to serve as AMA president—as an influence. “Her presence alone has changed the way I look at the seats that I could one day sit in,” Dr. Oboh says. “When I first joined the AMA, that was the reason.”
A longtime AMA member, Dr. Riddle is a pathologist at Tampa General Hospital and an associate professor and associate residency program director at the University of South Florida Health Morsani College of Medicine.
Dr. Riddle formerly served on the AMA Young Physicians Section governing council, and represents the U.S. and Canadian Academy of Pathology in the AMA House of Delegates.
Dr. Riddle was born with a bone disease and has had a disability since childhood that she said has often forced her to have to navigate environments designed without her in mind.
“I am well aware that this is my path and this is my story,” Dr. Riddle says. “But I also know that there are other people that have other paths and other stories, and I try my best to always listen to those because they all matter.”