An investigative news story on the gulf between the treatment of black doctors and white doctors in training programmes in the United States
Rosandra Daywalker had always excelled. The daughter of Haitian and Jamaican parents in Miami — one an auto parts clerk, the other a nurse — she’d received a nearly perfect score on the SAT, earned a full academic scholarship to the University of Miami, graduated summa cum laude from Morehouse Medical School, and was inducted into the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society.
Then came the icing on the cake: She matched into the elite and highly competitive specialty of otolaryngology, a field she’d fallen for after watching an elegant head-and-neck cadaver dissection in medical school. Standing on the stage during Morehouse’s Match Day festivities in 2015, Daywalker beamed. Her family could not have been more proud. The fact that fewer than 1% of otolaryngologists are Black seemed a distant concern.
Her residency at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston started well. She was the only Black trainee but felt welcome. She earned accolades and stellar reviews: “A well-liked team player.” “Always professional.” “Talented in the O.R.” She won a leadership award.
But when her supportive female program director left, everything changed. Suddenly, Daywalker could do no right. She was told she wasn’t closing cases fast enough, even though she thought she closed them as quickly as other residents. She was told to be on campus all day even though other residents often worked from home. Her previously excellent performance reviews dropped in every area. According to a lawsuit Daywalker brought against UTMB, she was intimidated in the operating room, denied rotations she requested, falsely accused of posing safety issues, subject to faculty members’ hostile comments about Black and Hispanic patients, and retaliated against for raising concerns about how a Black patient was treated.