Tag Archives: Medical Doctor

TSU’s accelerated program prepares inaugural class for medical school

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s accelerated medical program is one step closer to fulfilling part of its mission as the first cohort prepares to enter medical school. In 2021, TSU put out a national call to recruit students, aspiring to become medical doctors and dentists, for the innovative Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Institute Meharry Medical College/Tennessee State University Medical/Dental Accelerated Pathway Program. One of those students answering the call was Samantha Altidort. The Nashville native looks to become a family medicine physician.

Samantha Altidort working in a Western Blotting and protein assay techniques lab during honors undergraduate research.

“When I found out there was a program at Tennessee State University that was geared towards increasing the number of minority physicians and preparing them for a future in medicine, I immediately applied,” said Altidort, who is a part of the inaugural class preparing for medical school at Meharry Medical College.

Established in honor of Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr., a renowned heart surgeon and TSU alumnus, the program serves as a pipeline for minority students to become medical doctors. The program was also created to ensure that there is a steady supply of physicians and dentists committed to addressing health equity in underserved communities.

Jaden Knight, of Dayton, Ohio, aims to attend Meharry Medical College and become an orthodontist. Knight added that he looks forward to addressing the underrepresentation of African American men in the field and improving minority patient satisfaction.

“It’s important for TSU to have a program like this because there is a lack of minorities in the field,” Knight said.

Jaden Knight

Reflecting on his decision to apply for the program two years ago, Knight referred to it as an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

“You have this support system of peers who are going through the same journey. It’s great to have someone to lean on.”

In addition to increasing the number of minority doctors to address health disparities such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease in communities of color that have the highest numbers for these diseases, the program also boasts exceptional academic students like Brooke Major.  Major is also a part of the first Levi Watkins Jr. Institute cohort and the inaugural cohort of the Oprah Winfrey Leaders Scholarship program (OWLS).

With aspirations of becoming an OBGYN, Major finds motivation in seeing minority medical students participate in panels and formal discussions facilitated by the program.

Brooke Major during a Dr. Levi Watkins white coat ceremony.

“It was motivating for me to see Black young women who are interested in the same career field on the other side,” Major shared. “I feel blessed.”

Approaching her third year, the Dallas, TX native shared that she has faced academic challenges due to the fast-track accelerated program. But revealed, it’s the unwavering support of the program’s faculty and staff that she truly loves.

“That’s the biggest takeaway for me about the program that I love,” she expressed with gratitude. “Overall, they want to see us succeed. They just want us to get where we want to be, and they want to produce more Black doctors.”

Barbara C. Murrell, chair of the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Institute and director of community relations expressed confidence in the program’s future. As the first cohort studies for the upcoming MCAT, Murrell said the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Institute is in good hands and will thrive with those following in the footsteps of the inaugural class.

 “It is important to pass the baton on to new students because it guarantees the continuation of the program and production of more African American and other minority physicians and dentists,” Murrell said.

Amari Johnson graduated from high school as valedictorian with a 4.4 GPA.

She explained that incoming freshman Amari Johnson is a prime example. Johnson, from Greenwood, Mississippi, received acceptance letters from 36 colleges, with over $1.1 million in scholarships offers from 17 of the institutions. As a valedictorian with a 4.4 GPA, Johnson says she always wanted to attend an HBCU.

When deciding on a college Johnson asked herself, “Where am I going to feel most at home? Where am I going to be able to reach my full potential?” Johnson shared.

Johnson aspires to become a surgeon, representing minorities and addressing health disparities and equity. “Who better understands the African American woman’s body than an African American woman,” she said.

“We need to see more people in those positions, and this program is instrumental for that,” Johnson said. “It will inspire more doctors and nurses.”

Dean Barbara C. Murrell

Murrell also acknowledged the program’s potential to increase retention and make substantial contributions to society.

“Our society has a definite need to improve healthcare in the African American and other minority communities by helping to eliminate the disparities in healthcare and promote health equity,” Murrell stated.

Grateful to witness the making of history as minority students become medical and dental professionals committed to serving underserved communities, Murrell shared a final piece of advice, “Dream big, work hard, stay focused, and make wise decisions.”

To learn more about the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Institute Meharry Medical College/Tennessee State University Medical/Dental Accelerated Pathway Program and the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Institute, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/watkins/

Dr. Nancy Wolfe-Sidberry Lets Her Actions Speak Louder Than Her Words as She Pushes Through the Pandemic

by: Ciara Walker Williams

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Two years ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Covid-19 a pandemic and the former president issued a National Emergency leading to stay-at-home orders around the world. Since then, health care professionals like Dr. Nancy Wolfe-Sidberry have been on the front-line fighting to save lives while trying not to lose their own.

Dr. Sidberry in yearbook headshot photo with sorority sisters

“Watching patients overcome illnesses is always inspiring,” says Sidberry. “But Covid was a nightmare. I lost so many patients.”

Sidberry is a Family Medical Doctor at Brentwood Family Care Center and is affiliated with Ascension Saint Thomas Hospitals (Midtown and West) as well as TriStar Centennial Medical Center. As a primary care physician, she is trained to care for children and families and has been in practice for nearly 40 years.

“I’ve wanted to be a doctor since the age of two,” says Sidberry who followed in her family’s footsteps and attended Tennessee State University. After graduating with a Bachelor’s in 1974 and a Master’s in 1976, she went on to receive her M.D. from Meharry Medical College School of Medicine in 1985.

Dr. Sidberry pictured with her sorority sisters of Alpha Kappa Alpha on the campus of TSU

“My entire family attended TSU, so it was the only college I knew,” she says while adding that her alma mater’s motto: Think. Work. Serve. inspires her to think about what she wants, work to achieve it, and do her best.

With the mental and emotional challenges that have led to burnout for many health care providers in the last two years, giving her best is what has sustained Sidberry. She was among the age population that was at risk, but that has not stopped her from educating and caring for patients.

“I find peace by going to work every day and doing the best that I can do,” she says. “I get discouraged, but I must keep going. I just put one foot in front of the other and keep going. My self-care is helping others.”

While she doesn’t recall who inspired her to become a doctor, she says she never wanted anything else. Her advice to students is to choose their own path.

“Each of us has to choose our path, and I hope that each person chooses what’s right,” says Sidberry. “Just do the right thing for yourself and no one else.”

In addition to offering comprehensive medical care for her patients, she is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Sidberry is a woman of few words and a big heart. “I don’t like being in the spotlight,” she says candidly. “I just love practicing medicine and living a quiet life.

TSU proudly salutes alumna Dr. Nancy Wolfe-Sidberry during National Minority Health Month.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and eight doctoral degrees. TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee. With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.