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Healthcare Interview Series- Dr. Holloway (Pediatric Intensivist)

We will be beginning a healthcare series featuring minority professionals in the healthcare field. To begin this series, we interviewed Dr. Adrian Holloway!

Dr. Adrian Holloway is a Pediatric Intensivist, Global Health Program Director, and Assistant Professor at University of Maryland Medical Center. Dr. Holloway graduated from the Medical College of Virginia school in 2006. Dr. Holloway's current focus is in Cardiac Critical care as it pertains to pediatrics.

Summarized Transcript of Interview

Good morning everyone.... Today we will be having our first interview with a Physician, who embodies what it means to be Benevolent, Radiant, Organic, Worthy, and Noticeable (B.R.O.W.N).

Dr. Adrian Holloway is a Pediatric Intensivist and Assistant Professor at University of Maryland Medical Center. Dr. Holloway graduated from the Medical College of Virginia school in 2006. Dr. Holloway's current focus is in Cardiac Critical care as it pertains to pediatrics.

Before we get started, we would like to introduce ourselves in further detail.

Amaya: As previously mentioned my name is Amaya White and I am a Junior at VCU. I am currently majoring in Chemistry with a focus in biochemistry. I have decided to pursue medicine as a career, due to the disparities in medicine I have witnessed in my childhood community. I grew up in rural Virginia, where many individuals did not have adequate access to medicine and technology to further educate themselves. Beyond this, I enjoy exploring nature and spending my free time with my poodle.

Jordan: My name is Jordan Young and I am a junior at VCU majoring in biology with a minor in chemistry. Growing up in Baltimore, health disparities and the lack of diversity in medicine were very clear to me. Outside of academics I enjoy traveling and expanding my skills as a cosmetologist.

We created Two Be B.R.O.W.N. to provide insight to other aspiring physicians. As minorities, they know how difficult it can be to be the first in the family to take on this journey and hope this blog could help others and inspire others just like us.

We will now proceed with a few questions Jordan and I have collaborated on...

After shadowing with you, I've seen how important your identity is to you. Could you discuss your background and what encouraged you to pursue medicine?

Dr. Holloway's reply:

“I Grew up in Newport News Virginia as a military child... I grew up in a protected and insular black environment, centered around our church community. The elders really advocated education, lifting up your community, and doing good works in your community... My grandmother was an orthopedic nurse that worked nights. From early on in my life, I was exposed to medicine. I always saw personal in the hospital... For me, being a doctor is about justice. I think there is something about taking care of a sick or injured child, and getting them to a place of heeling that's makes me want to do this everyday”

Could you discuss your journey to medical school, including any obstacles you overcame?

Dr. Holloway's reply:

“..I went straight through, I went from undergrad right into medical school, to residency and fellowship. Pre meds are often driven about going into medical school. One of the things I would say is take a little time for yourself. Take a little time to do other things than just pursuing a career in medicine.

I would have ensured more diversity in the classes I took. I would have probably done less extracurriculars. I believe you need time for yourself, and reflect on your own internal and personal growth."

“Medical school is a grind. It is not the hardest thing you will do, but it is not the easiest thing either.”

What does your job entail as an attending physician?

Dr. Holloway's reply:

“My job is what I would call unconventional. I am a Pediatric Intensivist, which means I take care of children who need intensive or critical care. These are children that have organ failure, or are at risk of organ failure... In academic medicine, your job is divided into FtE which is full time equivalent. I work 13 weeks per year as an academic intensivist. The other part of my job is administrative/academic. I am the program director of the global health critical care fellowship program. A significant part of my work, is supporting our fellows, as they live in Malawi for 6 months of the year... I also work with our pharmacy committee, so getting new drugs in and setting up new policies.”

What made you decide to practice medicine in Baltimore?

Dr. Holloway's reply:

“They had significant growth, and were willing to support my efforts in global health... I love the patient population, and the ability to make a significant impact...The ability to support families who take care of really sick children on a day-to-day basis without a lot of resources.... It's a bonus to my job, to advocate for them. To help find a pediatrician that looks like them and takes their concerns seriously”

What do you believe the medical field is lacking?

Dr. Holloway's reply:

"Honestly… The medical field is not honest about how medicine can change to meet the needs of the community… On campus you’ll hear talk about performative acts such as BLM, Trans Lives Matter, but their work has yet to demonstrate this change...Any city you go to, you can predict health outcomes and educational metrics just based on zip code. If you live in this zip code, this is what disease you are going to die from and this is what your education is going to look like. Health care knows this… Since we know this, you’d think medicine would reflect that…. If we think those are risk factors for bringing you into the hospital, our job is to address that…. We will all agree that representation matters, right? It is difficult to recruit minority groups in medicine, if we don’t demonstrate it is a safe place to be... What we communicate beyond words is impactful on efficacy in communication. We often times turn off our heart in medicine and compartmentalize things in medicine to protect ourselves. Being demonstrative with compassion and care is something we need to turn to in medicine.

Medicine is lacking heart. We treat some people’s worst day as routine.

What impact do you believe you have as an African American Physician within your current specialty?

Dr. Holloway's reply:

I’m a Pediatric Intensivist. I have trained one other black male in pediatric critical care. Just one. I’ve had two black male residents come through the PICU. I’ve never had a black pediatric male attending throughout my training. As far as other black males in pediatrics, I know three and know of maybe ten others. Pediatric critical care is not a destination for black men, which is a shame because a significant number of children we take care of look like us. Studies have come out looking at outcomes of black children when taken care of by white physicians and their outcomes are poor...“Difficult, non-compliant, uncontrolled” These words are used to describe certain populations… We assume the worst out of our black families. We would rather role out regulatory enforcement agencies, but the health care plan was ineffective… My impact is really advocacy. Making sure black families know they have an advocate within the unit and knowing that people will do the right thing for them. I say that not because my partners are ineffective. Any of them I work with, I would allow them to take care of my child if she were sick. I think we have an extra expectation. With about 4,000 admissions per year, 60% of those children are African American. Making sure they know they can trust me and my colleagues as well.

Representation matters. I introduced myself to the family and I had one little girl ask “Are you the doctor?”. I said “Yes ma’am I am. She said “You don’t look like a doctor.” I said “Yes I do and so do you.” Changing the narrative about who can look like and who can be important.

Part of why I do it, is to make sure our children get as good of outcomes as everyone else.

Being that Covid-19 is still prominent, when you're away from work. How do you spend your time?

Dr. Holloway's reply:

"I spend my time post COVID-19 doing none of the things I’ve done pre-COVID… It has been a significant lifestyle change. Being home more, I’m more productive and I’ve seen my little girl thrive. I don’t miss much development of my two-year old and I think that’s a unique balance…. I make sure our lifestyle and schedules surrounding childcare don’t change."

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Dr. Holloway's reply:

"Trust the process and believe in yourself. Pursuing medicine and being in the hospital environment can both bolster and attack confidence and sense of self…. Breathe and be appreciative of the place you’re in and the impact you’ll have on the future… A quote that stuck with me is “Grow where you were planted.”... You have a unique opportunity to change lives.

Amaya: Thank you so much for your answers, Dr. Holloway, Jordan and I have truly enjoyed your thorough responses and your transparency with us today. Before we conclude we have asked our subscribers to send questions they also had for a minority physician."

Subscriber Q & A

How do you deal with racism in the medical field and has that ever deterred you from doing your job?

Dr. Holloway's reply:

"..I am not gentle with my correction. I call it out for what it is in the moment… I make people answer the question...Once, I was observing one of my trainees,... a person came up to me and asked “Can I help you with something?” What she implied was that I was a parent and I didn’t belong. She wouldn’t leave it alone. She said “I can send the nurse to your room you just need to leave the space.” I said “No, I’m actually the attending… I’m wearing the same thing you are, a badge, scrubs, clogs… So what made you think that I’m not a physician?” When you turn it back to them, that's corrective and demonstrative to the team. It has never deterred me from doing my job.

You cannot let racism deter you from doing your job.

Financially how were you able to save up or pay for your education?

Dr. Holloway's reply:

"Loans and scholarships… There are instances where someone can pay for your education, but I took out student loans. I went to an in-state institution and had a few scholarships. It is an expensive endeavor. The vast majority of us have to take out loans. There are ways to offset the cost… joining the military, scholarships from communities in exchange for time."

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a physician?

Dr. Holloway's reply:

"...Those of you going straight through are about 40% of the population.... It's never too early and it's never too late to pursue a career in medicine. What you need is a plan. A plan to give yourself accountability and a timeline to get into school. If you want to be in medical school in 2022, you have to know when you're taking MCAT, what score you need, necessary courses, etc... Have you met with minority affair personnel. What does a competitive applicant look like at this school and working towards those goals."

How do you practice/maintain self-care in a stressful profession.

I am the king of self care... Find someone who loves you for who you are. Make friends who are not health care providers. How I made friends, were from my gym. My friends are not physicians or providing healthcare... Get hobbies... Take care of your body... I get my hair cut, get my toes done, get a massage...You can get into a place where medicine makes you go go go go person and you forget your own humanity. Being in a place where you can treat yourself and be kind to yourself is important... Learn how to take yourself away from the hospital... Be honest with yourself about what kind of medicine you will practice.... Sometimes we pick fields because they have more prestige and not because we love it.

Do medicine you LOVE.

We would like to thank you for your time. We appreciate you taking time out of your schedule to discuss your background and journey to becoming a physician with us. We would like to formally say thank you by gifting you with a Starbucks gift card to your email.

Being that you are our first physician interview, this means a lot to us. It is very motivating to see someone like us within the field we aspire to be a part of.

Once again, thank you for all you do as a frontline worker and we wish you the best going forward.



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