Dr. Owusu discussing representation in medicine will save lives.
Khadija Owusu, MD, shared her journey to medicine with Bryant students and Providence’s Classical High School students on March 2.
Khadija Owusu, MD: ‘Representation will create medicine that saves lives’
Mar 03, 2023, by Emma Bartlett
Learn About Bryant Apply to Bryant

Khadija Owusu, MD, always wanted to be a doctor.  

The 26-year-old is now living that dream and is recognized as a physician, international speaker, and award-winning leader. In an event on March 2 hosted by the School of Health and Behavioral Sciences, Owusu shared her professional journey and discussed how representation will create medicine that saves lives with students from Bryant and Providence’s Classical High School. 

“I am passionate about bettering the world through widening aspirations, access to education as well as healthcare,” said Owusu, adding that she advocates for all-women empowerment. Owusu was also a keynote speaker at the Bryant University Northeast Entrepreneurship Conference on March 4.  

Owusu shared that her younger brother has sickle cell anemia — a disease that’s more common among Black Americans than other ethnicities — so spending time in and out of the hospital was normal growing up. After observing the healthcare her brother received and how the staff looked after her family, Owusu knew she wanted to have the same impact on other families and patients.  

“The journey to healthcare is not easy for anyone but, for some individuals, it is ten times harder because of the fact that you may have characteristics that are much different from everybody else,” Owusu said.  

These characteristics may include being Black, female, coming from a single-parent household/low socioeconomic home, or lacking role models. Owusu did not let these hurdles stop her; rather, she used them as motivation to pursue her dream and find solutions to existing problems within healthcare such as inverse care, impoverishing healthcare, and unsafe care.  

“People are dying because of health inequalities,” Owusu said. “When we have more individuals that look like the population we serve — that look like you guys — advocating for your patients, your communities that we live in, that you serve, that is the way in which we can help [change] the points that exist.”  

A UK native, Owusu is the director of programs at Melanin Medics and founder of The Like Her Project, which supports education for girls in Ghana.  

School of Health and Behavioral Sciences Director Kirsten Hokeness, Ph.D., hoped students gained inspiration from Owusu’s journey. Inviting high schoolers to campus was part of SHBS’s efforts to collaborate with the community and involve K-12 students in on-campus events tied to healthcare; a virtual link to the event was sent to some of Rhode Island’s career and technical education schools. Thursday’s presentation served as a pilot initiative and Hokeness hopes the school can hold future events where students can learn about Bryant, life at college, and the healthcare field.  

She added that there is a huge need for healthcare workers in all sectors of the industry and not enough people to fill vacant positions.  

“There are so many jobs in the business and behavioral health sides of the industry that they [high schoolers] may not know about, and [these events] can open their eyes to other careers,” said Hokeness. 

Stephanie Mott, Biology program coordinator and Associate Director of Bryant’s Honors Program, assisted with the event coordination. Following Owusu’s presentation, all students engaged in a Q and A. Classical students then enjoyed lunch on campus, chatted with Bryant students, and took a campus tour.  

Approximately 50 Classical High School students spanning grades nine through 12 visited campus Thursday. Classical freshman Alexa Montepeque said Owusu’s presentation expanded her view on the medical field and the inequalities that exist. Her classmate, Astrid Santos, added that it was beneficial to learn about Owusu’s experiences.  

Bryant student Olivia Rondini ’24 added that Owusu’s journey helped her realize some of the problems she may encounter after she graduates.  

“[The presentation] really opened my eyes to some of the racial and gender differences that can happen while in a doctor’s office or a hospital,” said Rondini. “I will be considering any stereotypes that I used to think about medicine from now on and checking my bias in the future when I get into the health field.” 

Read More

Related Stories