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Perspectives on Improving Healthcare in Honor of Black History Month


Black History Month is a time to reflect on the perspectives of those with diverse experiences, particularly people of color, and come together as a university to better understand how diversity strengthens not only our communities, but healthcare as well. Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions (RMUoHP) is honored to recognize and celebrate February as Black History Month. One of RMUoHP’s institutional core values is to be inclusive: “by honoring our differences and similarities, we strengthen institutional and community connections.” 

RMUoHP Students Reflect on Diversity and Healthcare

Terrance Motley, a student in RMUoHP’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program, shared, “Growing up I never really paid attention, but thinking about it more, I’ve literally never had a doctor that looked like me. Not even one time,” said Motley. “I’m the first and only black male to ever be a part of the DPT program–talk about pressure. I hope to be an example to any black student that RMUoHP is a good place for them to come and thrive.”

Reflecting on his future career, Motley added, “I consider it a duty to be an excellent healthcare provider; not only to represent for others who look like me, but for anyone who thinks that they are limited by the color of their skin or their background. More importantly, I hope to shatter the preconceived notions of patients and other healthcare providers alike when they see a big black dude come into the clinic.” 

Veedra E. Francis is a speech-language pathologist (SLP) and a student in RMUoHP’s Doctor of Speech-Language Pathology (SLPD) program. “I have been practicing speech-language pathology for about 19 years, and in pursuit of additional speech-language pathology knowledge, I have traveled as an SLP Citizen Ambassador to China, Israel, and Russia. My professional and personal goal is ‘to help people every day find their voice (literally) and realize that every word counts,’” said Francis.  

“As a member of a culturally-diverse or minority group, I have long championed the cause of diversity and inclusion, and I have always advocated for myself and other people considered in the minority. As a Black healthcare provider, I am glad that I have the opportunity and the privilege to help lessen disparity in healthcare by providing culturally competent care,” said Francis. 

Tarnue Ali, a student in RMUoHP’s Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, was born in Liberia and came to the United States in 1999 as a refugee. As a refugee, Ali had to overcome the challenges of learning the language and culture to move forward with life. His experiences rooted in him a desire to help others. 

“What makes me passionate about mental health counseling is knowing that everytime I meet with a student or client, I can impact or help them improve their lives as the individuals they envision themselves to be,” said Ali. “My diverse background will provide for patients’ stability and understanding. I believe that what I have experienced, seen, and lived will help me be a better counselor.” 

Improving Healthcare by Learning from Diverse Perspectives

Learning from different perspectives is vital to strengthen and support communities, especially for healthcare professionals so they can provide the support to the diversity of people in all communities. 

Motley said, “Any time you can embrace and talk with those who think, look, and act differently from you is a good opportunity to learn and grow. We all tend to live in our own universe, but our profession as healthcare workers is about other people. For them to see the good in us, we have to be able to see the good in them.”

As Francis said, now is the time to make a difference. “Today it is more important than ever to support diversity and inclusion initiatives by encouraging diverse thinking, asking questions, eliminating biases, and fostering a culture which ensures that everyone will be able to find their voice and realize that their every word counts.”