"Tamika K. Cross, M.D., FACOG, is a board certified physician who completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston (UT Health) where she served as an Administrative Chief Resident. She then joined as Assistant Professor at UT Health and is a practicing OBGYN in Pearland, TX."
1 - Talk a little bit about your upbringing as a young girl in Detroit, what experiences/situations led you to being a physician?
I’ve been interested in the medical field since I was a little girl. My grandmother who was essentially a second mother to me, was a registered nurse. From hearing her intriguing and heart warming stories to actually being by her side for many of her own doctor visits and hospital admissions, I was always exposed to the medical field. She had several chronic illnesses that resulted in her having many doctors in different specialities and locations and I was able to take those experiences in as a you girl.
I also participated in my high school’s medical academy that exposed us to certain aspects of the field. We took different courses that weren’t a part of the standard curriculum such as anatomy and medical terminology.
As a rising junior in high school, I was nominated to attend the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine at Emory in Atlanta. It was a 10 day program that flooded Pre med students with exposure to the “day in the life” as a doctor. This served as further confirmation that I was seriously interested in becoming a physician.
2 - You had many moments of discouragement and obstacles along the path. What kept you steadfast despite these many obstacles?
God, family and mentors. As a woman of faith, I prayed frequently for God to reveal my purpose and calling. Once I had confirmation that this was Gods purpose for my life, it kept me going through the tribulations when I experienced self doubt.
My family and mentors believed in me so much and poured so much into me as a young girl and to this day. Having people in my corner rooting for me, supporting me, and genuinely believing in me played a pivotal role in my continued drive and perseverance.
3 - Now, as a practicing physician, what’s your favorite part about being a physician?
My favorite part of being a physician is my ability to use my skills, personality and unique approach to help everyone. I love teaching and value education as a critical element in community health. Being able to teach my patients about their health is something I absolutely love. I love listening to patients from all different backgrounds and taking the time to understand their concerns and address them one by one.
As a physician of color, I know firsthand the historical and present day struggles with medical mistrust in communities of color. Patients having a physician that looks like them and comes from a similar background as them makes me more relatable and easier to develop that rapport and trust which is essential for patient compliance.
4 - Many people in the world discovered your story when watching your episode on Red Table Talk. What are some other crazy experiences you have had as a physician?
I’ve had several crazy experiences as a black female physician. From having patients ask me if I completed high school, handing me their food tray when I walk in the room, or consistently being asked “when is the doctor coming by '', I’ve heard it all. Having to prove myself constantly to other medical staff to earn their respect, to having to ignore condescending remarks on the daily, you have to learn not to internalize it.
5 - What do you ultimately hope readers get from your latest book, “What a Doctor Looks Like”?
I hope that my anecdotal experiences can serve as not only a blueprint of the process in becoming a physician, but an inspiring story and motivation to everyone that they can achieve anything they set out to do. Oftentimes, we see people’s success and from afar it looks easy or smooth, but truly diving into the intricacies of their journey lets people know that their seemingly “impossible” feeling is part of the process.
6 - Following you on social media, you dispel a lot of myths. What’s the biggest myth you hope to dispel in 2021?
I enjoy dispelling myths. With so much information at patients’ fingertips with social media, there’s a lot of misinformation being taught. Patients sit down in my office and rattle off the crazy things they learned from the internet that is typically extremely anxiety producing. My goal with dispelling myths on social media is to hope I can reach a greater crowd than my patients to educate further on women’s health.
The biggest myth I hope to dispel in 2021 is that there is a prototype of what a doctor looks like. That is absolutely false and although there’s much room for improvement in the diversity in the medical field, there are doctors from every type of background, and I truly need the world to understand that and embrace that. No more should we continue to hear “well you don’t look like a doctor,” as an introductory phrase or a pitiful excuse after a discriminatory event takes place.
7 - What’s a myth you previously believed, wholeheartedly, that you’ve dispelled for yourself?
I wholeheartedly believed that the only way to publish a book was through a literary agent and major publishing company. Although I started off that way, I decided to self-publish once I learned a great deal about the process.
8 - What’s your best piece of advice for young black future doctors?
Believe in yourself. It’s so easy to get off track or be discouraged by certain comments or events, but you MUST navigate past that. Every single successful person has dealt with adversity and the only difference between them and other people was they they never gave up and kept pushing through.
9 - Overall, what was your writing process like for this book?
For me it was a lengthy process. I started writing my book 4 years ago and stopped many times for various reasons. I doubted if I could do it as a debut author, or if anyone would care about my story, and was discouraged in working with an agent.
Even when it was completed, I hesitated on publishing it because I was nervous about the level of transparency in the book about very personal struggles. As I continued to share my story, mentor, and speak at several events, I realized how many people needed encouragement and I made the decision in 2020 that I was going to publish my book in 2021 for my 33rd birthday!
10 - What’s your best advice for getting over writer’s block?
Change your scenery, take a trip, spend time around your loved ones. These all serve as “resets” and often can give you material to write about. Reading the news, other books, or journals can also jog your memory or stimulate your brain to write more.
11 - What’s the best book you have read so far this year?
The Shift by Keion Henderson
12 - Do you plan on writing more books in the future?
Absolutely. I’m already brainstorming for my next book. Getting the first book out there is important and by breaking that seal, I am motivated to continue writing and sharing my work with the world.
Places To Find More From This Author:
Facebook: The Pink Room by Dr. Tamika Cross
Get Your Copy of What A Doctor Looks Like Today!