A black physician has revealed the racism she regularly endures from patients, including being mistaken for a janitor and called a “black bitch.” A video detailing her appalling workplace experiences currently boasts thousands of views on TikTok, where commenters said they were horrified.
“I do get a lot of racist comments,” Dr. Yaa Oheema, 26, who works in a South London emergency room, told Kennedy News of her “horrible” ongoing ordeal. “There’s always at least one moment or situation every shift.”
The Southwark native, who reportedly became a doctor in just three years, explained that she frequently gets asked if she’s a “nurse” or the custodian “even when I have ‘doctor’ on my lanyard.”
“Even after I have spent an hour with a patient, I could get asked, ‘When’s the real doctor coming in?’ ” added Dr. Oheema, who says she’s often reduced to tears by the comments.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In the TikTok video, captioned “Racist things my patients have said to me,” the emergency room doc recently detailed some of the worst racially insensitive remarks she has endured as a black physician, including patients remarking, “They let anyone become doctors, don’t they?,” “Can I speak to the actual doctor?” and “You must be one of the good ones.”
Meanwhile, other patients have reportedly even called Dr. Oheema a “black bitch” while some have reportedly wondered what village she came from “in Africa.”
“Because of the way I look and the way that I speak, I guess to some people, I don’t fit their idea of what a doctor should be,” the medical practitioner said.
Needless to say, TikTok commenters were horrified by the alleged discrimination Dr. Oheema faced at the hands of patients.
“In 2022!!!! I have no words,” exclaimed one aghast gawker.
Another wrote, “Sorry you’ve had to experience such racism….ignorant people that’s all they are. We are all people at the end of the day.”
“My favorite is ‘your English is so good,’ ” said one empathetic fan on TikTok, to which she replied, “I even forgot to add that one.”
Dr. Oheema claimed that the lion’s share of racist abuse comes from older folks.
“When the comments come from white people, it tends to come from the older population,” described the physician. “I guess it comes from experience and ignorance, where they haven’t adapted to the way things are now.”
“I had a patient say to me, ‘Back in my day, black people didn’t go to university. How have you become a doctor?’ ” she said.
And while Dr. Oheema generally tries to ignore the appalling statements, she says that “some days I can feel quite emotional about the comments and take myself off to have a little cry.”
The physician claims she often finds herself “speaking in more medical terms just to impress on the patient that I am a doctor.” “Usually I’d speak more informally or use colloquial language, so they understand it better,” she said.
The lifesaver chalks up some of the racial abuse to the stressful atmosphere of the emergency room, claiming: “I work in A&E [Accident and Emergency], so the racist abuse happens a lot because there tends to be frustrations.”
“The comments tend to come out when we don’t give them what they want,” Dr. Oheema said. “Like, if they ask to be signed off for six months, even though their injury doesn’t need that length of recovery time. When I say, ‘No,’ that’s when ‘you black bitch’ and ‘I want a real doctor’ come out.”
Nonetheless, the doctor was appalled that she had to face such discrimination in supposedly cosmopolitan London in 2022.
“When I was training to be a doctor, it was in the back of the mind that I might be treated differently due to the color of my skin,” she said. “But I thought, working in London, that wouldn’t be as much of an issue. London is very diverse, so it came as a big shock. I work in a diverse hospital with a diverse population.”
And Dr. Oheema’s not the only victim of the trend, as she says a lot of her “colleagues have had similar experiences.”
“They’ll get a lot of comments like, ‘I can’t understand your accent’ or similar comments to mine where they’re mistaken for the cleaner,” she said. “There’s quite a lot of sexism, ageism and racism. The world is changing, but some patients still haven’t adapted.”