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CWRU medical student becomes 1st Black woman admitted to Vanderbilt neurosurgery residency

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Posted at 10:22 PM, Mar 22, 2023

CLEVELAND — When it comes to history books, oftentimes you are the reader and sometimes you are the writer. In this chapter, Tamia Potter is the author.

“I just felt like you read about this, you read about people making history like this and you’re like, ‘oh that’s really nice, that’s an amazing accomplishment,’” said Potter.

Potter is about to graduate from Case Western Reserve University's medical school in May.

This past week on Match Day, Potter learned she matched with Vanderbilt University’s neurosurgery residency. She’s the first Black female neurosurgery resident in Vanderbilt’s history.

“I think it really surprised me, it’s one of those things where all I did was tell myself that I wanted to go to school and be a neurosurgeon, I did not know that this was going to be the outcome,” said Potter.

Neurosurgery is the longest residency and one of the toughest surgical sub-specialties. As a result, there are very few neurosurgeons who look like the Florida native.

“I never saw a Black woman neurosurgeon and I met them up here for the very first time,” said Potter.

According to the National Institute of Health, there are only 33 black female neurosurgeons in the country, among that number is Dr. Tiffany Hodges, a neurosurgeon at University Hospital and Potter's mentor.

“If you don’t see yourself then sometimes you don’t recognize it’s something you can pursue,” said Hodges. “I think seeing someone like yourself who is in the field will solidify that decision.”

Potter hopes to be the person someone else looks up to someday.

“It makes me happy because I know there’s going to be another Tamia looking at me the way I looked at Dr. Hodges and then they will know it is possible,” said Potter.

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