Black History Month: Black Americans in the Health Industry

February is Black History Month. Black History month honors generations of Black and African Americans, and celebrates their numerous contributions to the United States. The 2023 theme is Black Resistance. Black resistance not only encompasses rebellions, protests, and uprisings — but also the beauty, love, and pride of joyous everyday living. Black joy lives in those who dare to love themselves, their families, and their communities. Black joy is the smiles and laughter of children, the courtships, love, marriage rituals, fellowships, foodways and family pride (National Museum of African American History and Culture).

MedPhysicals Plus is excited to highlight Black Americans and their achievements related to the health industry. In this blog post there is also a special interview with our Office Operations Supervisor, Vernesia Gordon. 

MedPhysicals Plus kicks off our three-part series on “Black Americans in the Health Industry.” We are very excited to start with one of our employees, Vernesia Gordon. Read below ⬇️ for an exciting interview with Vernesia.

Vernesia has been working in the medical field for 12 years. She is a certified medical assistant (NCMA) and phlebotomist by training. She started as a paramedical examiner in December 2020 and was quickly promoted to Office Operations Supervisor in 2021.

🎤Is there anyone else in your family in the health or medical field?

“I am the only person in my family that is in the medical field, I always wanted to change the world.” In middle school, I realized that I may not be able to change the world, but I can help in as many ways as I am able to. “In the medical field, there is always someone who needs help.”

🎤 What are you looking for in 2023?

“This year I am looking forward to getting MedPhysicals Plus’s name out there and for us to become the most well-known destination for occupational health and employer services.” “I am also looking forward to buying my new house this year! ” I am going to finally have my OWN place to call home.” “Hard work pays off.”

🎤What does Black History Month mean to you?

“As an African American, Black History Month means I get to celebrate all of my accomplishments, which many Black leaders fought so hard for us to have.”

🎤Did you face any barriers in your life as a Black woman in the health field?

“When I went to draw someone’s blood at their house (mobile visit). As I approached they could see I am African American. They told me that we were going to do it outside and that I was not allowed in their house.”

🎤Do you have any advice for girls who aspire to be in the health industry?

“My advice for any girl that wants to be in the health industry, is: to go for it! The sky is your limit.” “It is not an easy road, but it is well worth it.” “Don’t stop; don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t because you can.” “At the end of it… when people see everything that you’ve accomplished, that right there is more powerful than anything.” “That was and is me.”

Thank you Vernesia for your time and for sharing your thoughts. Thank you for being a member of our leadership team. You can meet Vernesia if you visit our Anchorage office. She is known for her high feedback from our wonderful clients.

Below are 5 other people in African American history who made significant contributions to the health industry.


Charles Richard Drew (1904 – 1950)

Charles Richard Drew was an African American surgeon and researcher who initiated America’s first large-scale blood bank.Drew was the first African American to be appointed an examiner for the American Board of Surgery. Later in his life, he also discovered a method for the long-term storage of blood plasma. Additionally, he advocated against black physicians’ exclusion from local medical societies, medical specialty groups, and the American Medical Association Click here to learn more about Charles Richard Drew!

James McCune Smith, MD (1883 – 1865)

Dr. James McCune Smith was the first African-American to acquire a medical degree. He was able to earn three medical degrees at the University of Glasgow in the 1830s – a bachelor’s degree (1835), a master’s degree(1836), and his medical doctorate (1837). He also authored essays and gave lectures debunking pseudoscientific assertions of black inferiority and foreseeing the transformative impact African Americans would have on world culture. Moreover, he is the first to establish a black-owned pharmacy in the United States, servicing both black and white patients.

Click here to learn more about Dr. James McCune Smith, MD!

Dr. Nathan Francis Mossell (1856-1946)

Nathan Francis Mossell was the First African American to earn a medical degree from Pennsylvania in 1882. He was also elected to membership in the Philadelphia County Medical Society in 1888, making him the first African American physician to receive this accolade. In August 1895, he was a key figure in establishing the Frederick Douglass Memorial Hospital and Training School, the country’s second Black hospital. Mossell was also a political activist. He was a founding member of both the Niagara Movement and Philadelphia’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Click here to learn more about Nathan Francis Mossell!

Inez Prosser (1895 – 1934)

Inez Prosser is the first black woman to earn a Ph.D. in psychology in 1933. She also made a study about self-esteem and personality variables in matched pairs of African-American middle-school children. Click here to learn more about Inez Prosser!

Dr. Edith Irby Jones (1927-2019)

Edith Irby Jones is the first black woman to be elected as president of the National Medical Association. She was elected as the first female president of the National Medical Association (NMA) in 1985, which was established for black doctors who were not allowed to join the American Medical Association. Later on, she also received various awards and citations namely; (1986) Houston honored her with Edith Irby Jones Day, (1988) she was named American Society of Medicine Internist of the Year, and (1998) the ambulatory center at the former Southeast Memorial Hospital was named in her honor. Click here to learn more about Edith Irby Jones, MD!


You can learn more by clicking here about each person mentioned ➡️ 

Visit these pages to learn more about “Black Americans in Health” as well:






The Charles R. Drew Papers. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Charles Richard Drew – American Chemical Society (

Biographical Overview | Charles R. Drew – Profiles in Science (


 James McCune Smith, MD Papers Retrieved from

America’s First Black Physician Sought to Heal a Nation’s Persistent Illness | History| Smithsonian Magazine


Nathan Francis Mossell Story – Retrieved from Penn libraries 

Nathan Francis Mossell (

Nathan Francis Mossell (1856-1946) • (


Inez Beverly Prosser, PhD – Sources Retrieved from

America’s first black female psychologist (

Feminist Voices

Dr. Inez Beverly Prosser was the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in psychology (


Dr. Edith Irby Jones (1927-2019)

Dr. Edith Irby Jones (1927-2019) — Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame (

Changing the Face of Medicine | Edith Irby Jones (