Preventive medicine physician Dr. K. Aletha Maybank ( who earned her MPH at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in 2006), was named the inaugural chief health equity officer of the American Medical Association (AMA), the nation’s largest professional organization of physicians and medical students. Previously a deputy commissioner of New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), Dr. Maybank was founding director of the DOHMH Center for Health Equity. She launched the Race to Justice Initiative, renewed the agency’s commitment to neighborhood-based work, and oversaw development of the first place-based community health worker efforts in New York City public housing.
As a vice president of the AMA, Dr. Maybank will launch a Center for Health Equity to elevate and sustain the organization’s commitment to combatting disparities and develop processes to embed the pursuit of health equity at the core of the AMA’s operations.
Dr. Maybank was already a board-certified pediatrician when she enrolled at Columbia Mailman, and she credits Associate Dean for Community and Minority Affairs Dr. Robert Fullilove and others for her scholarly and intellectual development and their professional influence. “They were phenomenal professors, understanding of me at that time as a young, black physician figuring out what I was going to do,” she says. “They opened doors for me and that’s absolutely important for all students, but especially students of color.”
Following the Mailman School, Dr. Maybank co-founded “We Are Doc McStuffins,” a movement created by African American female physicians inspired by the Disney Junior character Doc McStuffins. “As physicians, we take an oath to do no harm and keep patients safe,” she says. “If biases are causing harm, we have to confront them for the sake of excellence in patient care.”Friday Letter Submission, Publish on August 02