What started as mother-daughter bonding activities led Dr. Kristinza Giese down the road to join one of the most prominent medical associations for minorities in the United States, the National Medical Association (NMA). In her words, “ The physicians I've met have encouraged me directly by setting examples of how to break barriers and truly take care of patients. After I completed residency and fellowship training, I understood how important it was to be involved in the NMA.”
NMA influence has been a part of Dr.Giese’s life since she was a child, “I was very fortunate to participate in Camp NMA-zing with other kids attending with their families. We traveled to places like Orlando, San Francisco, and Honolulu. As I got older, I started attending adult activities, like the tennis tournament my mother and I won the Women's Doubles tournament in 2000! Yes, we still have the trophy!”
The NMA is the most significant and oldest organization in the United States that represents African American physicians and their patients, advocating for the interests of more than 50,000 African American doctors and the patients they treat. Through its membership, professional growth, community health education, advocacy, research, and collaborations with public and private organizations, the NMA is dedicated to enhancing the quality of health among minorities and disadvantaged individuals. The NMA has traditionally focused on health concerns affecting African Americans and medically underserved populations throughout its existence; however, all ethnic groups are included in its values, aims, projects, and philosophy.
The NMA awards scholarships to eligible medical students based on academic performance and financial need. "Membership in the NMA is crucial for minority physicians because it is critical to see other minority physicians flourish and to encourage one another," adds Dr. Giese. "After I completed residency and fellowship training, I was able to devote more time to the NMA, especially the Pathology department, to broaden the field and attract more minority pathologists. There aren't enough Black doctors, yet several studies show that having a Black doctor improves results for Black patients. The issue is something we can all work on."
Working with the NMA can make individuals better physicians; in Dr. Giese’s case, “It has allowed me to collaborate with other pathologists and celebrate Black and other underrepresented minorities in our field.” According to Dr. Ekene Okoye, fellow NMA member and Pathologist at Houston Methodist, “The NMA makes me a better physician because I am constantly updated on the latest in my field and can constantly grow in learning about issues related to my community. I have also been able to network with other fantastic pathologists and clinicians which has been helpful.”
From the little girl hanging with her mom to the Pathology Section Chair of the organization, Dr. Giese's journey with NMA has been inspiring and uplifting. Her experience demonstrates how seeing other minorities thrive may motivate you to believe that you can achieve anything. It's also an excellent example of generational success passing from mother to daughter.
Dr. Kristinza Giese is a Washington, DC, native and Howard University graduate. In 2006, she graduated from the Medical College of Wisconsin. Her postgraduate medical training includes a General Surgery Residency at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and an Anatomic and Clinical Pathology Residency at the University of Washington Medical Center. She also served as the Pathology Section Chair of the NMA from 2019-2021.
We want to thank Dr.Giese, Dr. Okoye, and the NMA for participating in our blog and giving us a chance to tell their story.