History-Maker: Akeim George, FMA MSS Governing Council Member
By Erika D. Peterman, FMA Managing Editor
Though FMA Medical Student Section (MSS) Governing Council member Akeim George is the first person in his family to study medicine, his loved ones had a lot to do with his decision to become a physician. During George’s early adolescence in Murfeesboro, Tenn., just outside of Nashville, health crises and a lack of access to good medical care took a toll on his extended family.
“A lot of my family members were interacting with the healthcare system,” said George, a third-year MD/MPH student at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “One of my grandparents was in hospice care while one of my cousins who was 10 or so years older than I was, she passed away from breast cancer because they weren’t able to identify it in screening early enough.”
“Increasing representation is not only right in a moral sense, but it can also save the health system a lot of money through improved outcomes and decreased utilization of high-cost services when patients’ health deteriorates.”
An aspiring pediatrician, George serves as the MSS Governing Council’s Director of Legislative Affairs. His involvement with the FMA is a natural extension of his interest in health policy and healthcare advocacy. In 2021, George and his fellow MSS members worked with the Alachua Medical Society, Dade County Medical Association, and Hillsborough County Medical Association on a resolution to codify the FMA’s stance against racism and to address racial inequities as a public health issue. The resolution was adopted in the FMA House of Delegates at that year’s Annual Meeting.
“I wanted to be part of organized medicine as a way to ensure that the practice landscape had fewer impediments to being able to practice medicine,” he said. “Advocating for patients outside the confines of the hospital or the exam room is important to me. I’ve experienced through family members and learned through my master’s in public health (program) about all the ways people’s health is impacted outside of (physicians) prescribing medication or doing anything in the hospital.”
While overall racial and ethnic diversity within the medical profession has increased steadily over the past decade, Black doctors make up only 5.3 percent of the nation’s physician workforce and 5.9 percent of clinicians in Florida, according to the most recent AAMC physician workforce data report. To highlight the link between representation in medicine and patient outcomes, George noted a 2018 study in Oakland, Calif., which found that Black men who were randomly paired with Black male physicians were far more likely to ask for preventive services than those who were randomly paired with nonblack physicians.
“Increasing representation is not only right in a moral sense, but it can also save the health system a lot of money through improved outcomes and decreased utilization of high-cost services when patients’ health deteriorates,” George said.
In addition to establishing himself as a future physician leader, George is an accomplished musician who majored in music and neuroscience at Duke University, where he played saxophone in the marching band.
“Music has played a very significant role in my life,” he said. “I have a group of people at UM that I play music with every once in a while. I hope to get back into it a little more when I have more free time.”