Following in the footsteps of Dr Patrice A. Harris, the first African-American female president of the American Medical Association is Dr C. Freeman, Los Angeles County Medical Association’s first African-American president.
Freeman, like Harris, is a psychiatrist of note who has, since she got her qualifications, carried out many medical roles. From being a geriatric psychiatrist to a mentor and even director of a residency program.
All these led to her date with history on June 25 when she became the president of the Los Angeles County Medical Association (LACMA).
Freeman had sat on the board of LACMA as district counselor, officer and district treasurer, but she has created a milestone for the association as the first African American president. As president, Freeman is the face and spokesperson for LACMA, which has been the leading organization for physicians in Los Angeles County since 1871. Along with being a source for physician needs, LACMA also does a great deal of advocating for public healthcare needs. Freeman has worked with the public and medical professionals, but in her new role as president, she also meets with government officials to make healthcare more accessible.
“Growing up in Houston and going to college in D.C., I would see so many African American doctors,” said Freeman. “When I came to California, I was amazed at the shortage of African American doctors. Compared to the population, we are underrepresented here so I really appreciate this role because in this I see that I am a role model.”
Freeman was raised in Houston, where her father was a preacher in the 5th Ward, which is an underserved community. She always remembered the elderly taking care of her and watching over her in church. Having that connection to the elderly and seeing how the they were underserved, Freeman decided as a teenager that she wanted to be a geriatric psychiatrist. After high school, Freeman moved to Washington, D.C. and graduated from Howard with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She then completed medical school and a residency at the University of Virginia.
Even though medicine was a passion of Freeman, she wanted to try something different after finishing her residency. She changed careers and weather and ended up here in California at Pepperdine University where she studied business. While in business school, Freeman worked on the Navajo Reservation and regained her interest in medicine. Since she didn’t have many connections to the medical field in Los Angeles, Freeman decided to join the Charles R. Drew Medical Society.
“I hadn’t trained here or gone to medical school here, so I needed to do something to feel connected,” said Freeman. “My church was in the 5th Ward in Houston, which has the socio-economic demographics of Watts and South Central so my association with this area is the familiarity to the people who took care of me in church.”
Freeman has been practising as a geriatric psychiatrist for the last 18 years at Charles R. Drew University and is also the director of the Psychiatry Department and Residency Program at the university. Along with practising, she also values being part of organizations in her field and meeting diverse groups of medical professionals. Freeman is also a member of the Association of Black Women Physicians and mentors with the Saturday Science Academy II at Charles R. Drews University, which gives k-12 students the opportunity to learn about medicine.
Source: LA Sentinel