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Celebrating Black History Month 2023

Feb 1, 2023, 00:00 AM by Diversity SIG


Clyde William Jones, MD - Pioneer in Anesthesiology

Reflections on Patient Encounters During Fellowship

Prominent Medical Achievements by African American Men and Women in Pittsburgh


Clyde William Jones, MD - Pioneer in Anesthesiology
Written by: Iyabo Muse, MD, FASA


Clyde William Jones, MD, was a long-time California anesthesiologist and retired naval medical officer, who passed away at the age 90 on April 13, 2020.  Dr. Clyde Jones was born in St. George, Barbados on September 29, 1929. Dr. Jones was an excellent student from childhood. He was the first person from his small village to receive a scholarship from the priest of St. Jude’s Church to attend St. Jude’s Primary School.  After graduating in 1947, he left his Caribbean home to come to NYC to further his education. There he attended The City College of New York at night, while working. He graduated in 1954 and subsequently attended Howard University Medical School, graduating in 1958.  After internship at Los Angeles County Medical Center, he joined the US Navy. He began training in anesthesiology at the Naval Regional Hospital Medical Center in San Diego in 1963. That same year, he married his wife Norma Smith of 56 years.

The US entered the Vietnam War in 1965. Dr. Jones was soon off to, first, Vietnam and then to the Naval Hospital in Agana, Guam. Guam, convenient for air evacuations from Vietnam, was where most of the military’s immediate medical care took place during that war.  He faced many difficult war-time anesthesia situations and was also being given increasing responsibility for department and hospital management.  His cheerful personality and a no-nonsense demeanor in stressful situations, led to numerous leadership positions in important Navy institutions over time, including Chief of Anesthesiology at Camp Pendleton, various military hospitals in Vietnam, Guam’s Naval Hospital, the Naval Hospital in San Diego and, later, in the Kaiser system. In 1979, despite attempts by the Surgeon General of the US Navy and other flag officers to get him to remain on active duty and advance in rank, Captain Jones retired from the USN. 

His medical career then brought him to the Southern California Permanente Medical Group. He came on board as the Chief of the Department of Anesthesiology here in San Diego. As expected he excelled as a clinician, leader, innovator, role model, friend, counsel, and wit. He was the “preferred” anesthesiologist for all kinds of surgeries.  He retired from SCPMG as a full-time anesthesiologist in 1994 but continued to work per diem until 1999. He also continued to attend the annual ASA meeting, to see his many friends and past-trainees and to participate in Navy social events. Over his career, Dr. Clyde Jones went on 83 volunteer medical missions with organizations such as Operation Smile and UCSD Department of Plastic Surgery to teach and provide anesthesia in under-developed countries. Some of this countries includes the Philippines, Vietnam, Kenya, and Mexico. Dr. Clyde Jones was an early member of the Anesthesia History Association, an excellent educator and one of the first African American anesthesiologist to hold a Chief position at an academic medical center.  




Reflections on Patient Encounters During Fellowship
Written by: Mike Appeadu, MD


Recently, an elderly Black patient stopped me before leaving the clinic room. “I just wanted to let you know how proud I am to see you here. I don’t see that many of us doing what you’re doing. Continue to do that good work. Keep it up.” Similarly, last week before consenting another Black patient for a procedure, “Wow I’ve never seen you around here before. Are you from the area? Are you a trainee? How is it going so far? Sorry I’m talking so much, I just have to chat you up since I never see any brothers who are docs!”

As a Black physician, I’m reminded every so often of the unique position I’m in when treating patients. Often when seeing Black patients in clinic or consenting them, they’ll tell me how proud they are of me or express pleasant surprise. Pain medicine is a field where the importance of the physician-patient relationship cannot be overstated. During my fellowship this year, I try to remind myself of that and recognize how important my presence can be, especially for patients who look like me. 

Racial inequalities continue to play a large role in health care disparities today. To reflect the demographics of this country, the presence of Black physicians is extremely important. URM physicians are more likely to be involved in service, research, and education activities which are aligned with their identity. Diversity in the medical field strives to (1) ensure that competent medical care is available to all citizens in an increasingly heterogeneous society, (2) expose trainees to diverse perspectives, and (3) translate medical students into effective and culturally competent physicians who are better prepared to serve a varied patient population. In addition, diversity among clinical researchers may more adequately address health disparities and diseases affecting different populations. (Soto-Greene)

Being an underrepresented minority in medicine means that there are inevitably going to be challenges because of your skin color. These range from seemingly small things like being mixed up with the one other Black fellow (yes that happens often!) to more serious safety concerns like the accounts I’ve heard from other Black physicians of patients using racial verbal abuse toward them. Sometimes inequalities among physician peers are evident. Deterrances from medical students pursuing careers in academic medicine include: Lack of diverse faculty and mentors, inability of diverse faculty to be promoted, and insufficient institutional efforts to address cultural issues such as the “glass ceiling” and “cultural tax.” A perceived “secrecy” surrounding academic medicine careers can serve as a barrier for URM medical students to serve as faculty. (Sanchez) Minority students have cited racial discrimination, feelings of isolation, and different cultural expectations as negative impacts on medical school experiences. (Dyrbye)

In spite of the challenges of this journey, however, I tend to look at the ways in which my presence can be a light for a large population of our pain patients, especially those who often feel they don’t feel they have a voice. I always try to at the very least give subtle signs of camaraderie and understanding, such as “the nod” (Manning). I’ve learned that good quality patient care is holistic, meaning meaningful interactions go a long way. There’s still a lot to do, and spaces where we can come together and continue to promote diversity in medicine are crucial. Let's continue to keep up the good work. 


Dyrbye LN, Thomas MR, Eacker A, et al. Race, ethnicity, and medical student well-being in the United States. Arch Intern Med 2007;167(19):2103–09. 

Manning KD. The nod. JAMA 2020;323(17):1684–85. 

Sánchez JP, Peters L, Lee-Rey E, et al. Racial and ethnic minority medical students' perceptions of and interest in careers in academic medicine. Acad Med 2013;88(9):1299‐1307. 

Soto-Greene M, Culbreath K, Guzman DE, et al. Diversity and inclusion in the academic medicine workforce: encouraging medical students and residents to consider academic careers. MedEdPORTAL 2018;14:10689. 



Article Recommendation: Profiles in Diversity - Timeline of Prominent Achievements in Medicine by African American Men and Women in Pittsburgh
Suggested by: Stephanie Pan, MD


I came across this neat tribute listing the contributions of African American men and women to the medical field in Pittsburgh (credit goes to Dr. William Simmons who published this in 2015). 

The article made me really proud to have trained at Pittsburgh and incredibly grateful for the amazing accomplishments of these men and women. It's important to understand the disparities to medical care access and the increased the rates of complications and poor outcomes between racial and ethnic groups. However, we should also celebrate the courageous men and women who have become our role models, not just during Black History Month but throughout the year. What Dr. Simmons accomplished in this tribute is not an easy feat but I think all of the major hospitals/medical groups should do this in their area/city/state.

Read the article:


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