“I want the world to be better because I was here.” – Will Smith
This is a quote the Egwuatu sisters live by. There is no denying that medicine was a calling for Patricia and Stephanie Egwuatu. Since childhood, the two sisters have been on a journey to make positive change in healthcare, mentor future physicians of color, and lead with their passion for health equity for all.
Their story begins with a Nigerian father and Ugandan mother who met at Central Washington University. Patricia and Stephanie believe that their parents’ journey, history and upbringing directly impacted their why. Mr. and Mrs. Egwuatu both immigrated to the United States for a better life, one they had always dreamt of for their children. They wanted a future where their children could have access to education and opportunities.
We grew up hearing that being able to go to a doctor was a privilege. Access to healthcare was not a given. One too many family members had suffered from an inability to see physicians or healthcare professionals. The stories our parents shared have been a constant reminder and inspiration for us. We know that by becoming physicians dedicated to practicing in underserved areas, we could impact the lives not only of our own family members but also the communities we live in.”
Osteopathic medicine’s holistic approach to healthcare and focus on mind, body and spirit resonate with the Egwuatu sisters. Patricia and Stephanie believe that health and wellness call for a whole-body approach. To them, this means incorporating their patients’ background, cultural upbringing and who they are as people into the care they give.
The Egwuatu sisters grew up in Auburn, WA. Throughout their K-12 education, they recognized that they were always in the minority. It wasn’t until college that they had the opportunity to take classes like African History and African American History.
Patricia graduated from the the University of Washington and Stephanie from Portland State. Both Stephanie and Patricia affirm that the courses they took in college changed their trajectory. For the first time, they could envision the impact they could have within their communities and realized that they had an opportunity, and a duty, to educate others about healthcare disparities.
We began to seek mentorship from physicians of color and learned that African Americans make up 5% of physicians in the United States. We felt and continue to feel compelled to a be a part of the solution and change this figure. We both are continuously growing in our journeys.”
Stephanie is a 4th year medical student at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences. She leads with a passion for health equity. Patricia is a Family Medicine Faculty Attending Physician at Kaiser Permanente in Seattle, Washington, where she helps to co-lead Kaiser Anti-Racism Curriculum while practicing full spectrum family medicine.
AACOM is proud to share the Egwuatu sisters’ story this Black History Month. The transformative effect of their college courses in African History and African American History are a testament to the importance of Black History Month’s mission of ensuring that the historical contributions of Black Americans and others from African descent are taught throughout our schools and communities, to the benefit of us all.
Connect with the Egwuatu sisters on Instagram: @twosisterstwodoctors