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NOA 2023: Exploring the Black eye care experience


Essence Johnson, OD, FAAO, hosts an insightful conversation about the Black eye care experience at NOA 2023 Convention in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Essence Johnson, OD, FAAO, discusses her National Optometric Association 2023 Convention talk, "Black healthcare experience," which she presented in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Video transcript

Editor's note: This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

Essence Johnson, OD, FAAO:
So I am Dr. Essence Johnson. I'm a community and correctional health optometrist in Dallas, Texas. I'm also the executive director of Black EyeCare Perspective, and the director of healthcare careers at Uplift Education.

So at the NOA convention, I'm going to talk about the Black healthcare experience. A lot of times, we don't really delve deep into the different cultural, and just personal experiences that our patients have. So this talk is going to give some examples of Black patients that I know kind of personally, because they're my mother, they're my grandmother and my siblings. And really just talking about how their experiences in the healthcare system, it really mirrors many Black or African American patients and the things that we as eye care providers even, and health care providers in general, should look out for why we're interacting with our patients.

The second half also talks about our biases, and how those may affect the way that we are treating people and also affects the things that we say, and also the things that we don't say.

Really, when I do this talk and conversation, the pearls that I would like for my colleagues to take back with them is to mind your tone. You know, really pay attention to your verbal and non-verbal cues. The question comes up a lot like how do we treat other patients, patients of color, in particular Black patients, I wrote an article about that. And a lot of the disconnect that I see from maybe myself versus another colleague interacting with our patients of color is the way that we express ourselves. The time that we're taking to explain things to them, and the tone that we're using when we're explaining these different things to them.

The NOA conference is always amazing. I really enjoy our first day. We started off with golfing, some of us started off serving where we were here in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. And then the night ended with a panel discussion with Johnson & Johnson that I was on. And I really feel like the panel discussion, talking about equity and diversity, inclusion and belonging in our healthcare space in our eye care space, is really setting the tone to a lot of the conversations that we'll continue to have in our continuing education courses and really just a way for us to dial it up after we leave here and return back to our respective homes and practices.

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