‘The answer is conversation:’ For Orlando pediatrician, better dialogue needed to heal medical bias

Dr. Candice Jones is an author, podcast host and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics

ORLANDO, Fla. – Board certified pediatrician, author, podcast host and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Candice Jones cares for thousands of kids and parents in Central Florida.

During Black History Month, we sat down to talk about her path to becoming a physician.

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“I attended Morehouse School of Medicine, which is a historically Black college of medicine, and so I had tremendous support. I had sanctuary in my medical education, and in mentors, and in people that looked like me, so I was truly blessed,” Jones said.

She completed her residency in pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. She said she has had many experiences that made her feel overlooked or judged as a Black physician.

“You know clearly I have Dr. Jones on my badge, I introduce myself as Dr. Jones, but I’m relegated to Ms. Jones, or Candice. And a male white doctor could walk into the room and they’re Dr. so-and-so,” Jones said.

According to the most recent data from the Association of American Medical Colleges, in 2020, Black or African American residents made up 5.8% of the future physicians in the United States.

“We know that roughly around 5% of physicians are Black and that is a shame. We represent about 14% of the U.S. population,” Jones said.

In many cases, Jones says her patients have specifically searched and traveled for their appointments.

“I have patients that come here from pretty good distances that was searching for a Black female physician for their daughter, or a Black physician period that took their insurance,” Jones said.

Several studies in the United States highlight an increased trust between Black patients and Black physicians, which can lead to better preventative care and overall outcomes.

“We know it can make a difference in the health, that can help overcome some of these health disparities, some of these health inequities, and further conversations around these systems and policies and even bias in medicine that’s impacting health,” Jones said.

Jones continues her work with patients at Edgewater Pediatrics in Orlando and through outreach and mentorship.

“I think the answer is conversation, right? Having these open, this open dialogue and these conversations. Telling the truth about people’s experiences and our history, and trying to find common ground in an effort to make things better, right? You have to do that,” Jones said.