Diversity matters

Black History Month: Recognizing the Black DOs I looked up to during my medical training

Black doctors such as AOA Past President William Anderson, DO, and DeAundre Dyer, DO, serve as examples to underrepresented minorities in medicine as they live their truth and push boundaries.


As a Black male in osteopathic medicine, finding mentorship from those that look like you can be challenging. However, Black doctors such as AOA Past President William Anderson, DO, and DeAundre Dyer, DO, serve as examples to underrepresented minorities in medicine as they live their truth and push boundaries. A 2021 UCLA study about historical trends of Black doctors in America found that the proportion of Black physicians in the United States has increased by only 5% over the past 120 years, and that the share of Black male doctors remains unchanged since 1940.

For Black History Month, I wanted to recognize these two physicians who have influenced my own medical career so greatly and share their stories with the wider osteopathic medical community.

Civil rights activism as a DO

Dr. William Anderson, osteopathic surgeon and civil rights leader, was advised to get an education early on by his parents. He was interested in medicine but initially hesitant due to the expense. Dr. Anderson shadowed William Reese, DO, a family friend and the only practicing African American osteopathic physician in the southern United States.

Dr. Reese encouraged Dr. Anderson to apply to the Des Moines Still College of Osteopathy in Iowa where he ultimately matriculated in 1952. After completing his degree in 1956, Dr. Anderson interned at Flint Osteopathic Hospital in Michigan. He then moved his family to Albany, Georgia, where he opened his medical practice.

As Dr. Anderson’s practice grew, he partnered with Harlem Cut-Rate Drugs, a pharmacy started by Dr. Anderson and other African American investors in the community. In Albany, Anderson joined a community of African American professionals affiliated with the area’s civil rights groups, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Urban League. Despite these organizations, black community members continued to face resistance from white regimes in Albany, Georgia.

Leaders of Albany’s prominent civil rights organizations convened to form the Albany Movement, selecting Dr. Anderson as president. Dr. Anderson then enlisted the support of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., PhD, and Ralph David Abernathy to lead civil rights demonstrations in the Albany area. The Albany movement helped to increase black voter registration and hasten desegregation in the area.

Dr. Anderson ultimately had a 25-year career in surgery at the Art Center Hospital and maintained a medical group practice until 1984.

Aiming for growth in the profession

Dr. DeAundre Dyer grew up in the mid-1980s in Detroit. He recalls Dr. Philip Chandler, a fictional physician on the TV show “St. Elsewhere,” as one of his earliest exposures to medicine. The character displayed discipline, intelligence and compassion, all qualities Dr. Dyer desired to emulate. Dr. Dyer’s aunt was employed at Detroit Sinai Grace Hospital for over 25 years, and he recalls her work stories that referenced black surgeons, including John Sealey, DO, and Ronald Cheek, MD. The stories portrayed these men as titans in Dr. Dyer’s imagination.

Dr. Dyer went on to attend Michigan State College of Osteopathic Medicine after completing his post-baccalaureate studies at Ohio Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. Early in Dr. Dyer’s medical education, he envisioned independence and explored the array of clinical rotations available at his medical school. He ultimately decided to pursue a career in family medicine and completed his family medicine residency at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. 

When asked about current trends in health care that interest him, he mentioned the change in medical student profiles. “Historically, physicians were a monolithic bunch,” said Dr. Dyer. “However, medical schools actively pursue a more racemic mixture of students each year. As political scientists, social workers, teachers, economists, philosophers, computer scientists and labor organizers join the physician workforce, I am excited to see its growth. I feel like the lack of diversity in thought has been a stagnating force in our field. I am looking forward to discovering better ways to present our cases to one another and document our findings.”

Dr. Dyer recently established a direct primary care practice in Raleigh, North Carolina. The private practice is called Direct Medical Xperience and provides a holistic and patient-centered approach to medical care for families and businesses.

Inspiration comes to light

The accomplishments of Dr. Anderson and Dr. Dyer, among many others, should inspire emerging Black physicians to strive for greatness and help others along the way. When I emailed Dr. Anderson in preparation for writing this article, he told me he was honored. For such an accomplished individual, I admire how humble Dr. Anderson has remained and how enthusiastic he was to help a young doctor.

My first encounter with Dr. Dyer was approximately three years ago during a residency interview at the Cleveland Clinic. I was in my final stretch of interviews; this was my 11th of 13 total. I was relieved and comforted by seeing him in the workroom during my tour of the clinic facility, as he greeted me with a smile and a wave as I was directed to the next room. Of the residency programs where I interviewed, only two had a black male resident. It was impactful for me to see someone who looked like me in a position I was also planning to take on.

Dr. Dyer played a significant role in my decision to later attend residency at his program. He served as a role model, mentor and friend, helping me navigate residency as an intern and showing me how to excel as a black doctor in medicine. Representation matters, and it takes a joint effort to uplift communities of color, help humanity and mentor future generations to access their full potential.

Editor’s note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of The DO or the AOA.

Related reading:

Food from the soul: A history of African American culture and nutrition

How Roe v. Wade getting struck down impacts women of color


  1. William G. Anderson, D. I.,FACOS

    I love what you are doing as it very much encouraging for Black students who only need some one that cares. Like me.
    I am willing… if there is a desire and motivation I will help where I can.

  2. DeAundre Dyer

    I am honored to be mentioned in the same sentence as Dr. Anderson. My goals in medicine have always been to make sure other feel seen and to ensure any opportunity afforded to me is available to the next. Thank you Alex for your hard work and excellence.

  3. Salina Baldwin

    Great article Dr. Ford! I too had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Anderson along the way and he was a great inspiration in my pursuit of osteopathic medicine.

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