This black doctor believes that it’s important to remember your heritage9
This is an older story, but the kind of story that needs to be told. Dr. Carl Williams is one of the great professionals who should be highlighted in media ahead of the entertainers and athletes that we see every day. It’s easier to become a doctor than an athlete, and the money can be pretty good too. But also, Dr. Williams’ story is inspirational because he believes strongly in protecting the sense of history needed for black people to know their educational potential. Read the story and tell us what you think. It’s a good one.
By PAUL HARASIM
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
Sixty-three-year-old Dr. Carl Williams walks into North Vista Hospital carrying the first dollar he made more than 30 years ago as a hand surgeon.
The worn, wood container originally held, and still holds, the African-American physician’s first pair of surgical magnification glasses — lenses he purchased decades ago for $200, equipment he continues to wear in operating rooms throughout the Las Vegas Valley.
The pen his mother gave him as he started his career in medicine sits alongside the dollar bill and glasses. Taped to the box are patient identification adhesive labels, the kind of computer-generated tags patients wear around their wrists in the hospital.
On this day, Williams, one of the few doctors board certified in three specialties — ear, nose and throat as well as plastic and hand surgery — will perform a cosmetic eyelid procedure on a middle-aged woman.
The box, as it always does, goes with him to the operating theater.
“For me, it’s like the security blanket Linus always carries in the ‘Peanuts’ comic strip, it makes me comfortable,” Williams says. “It also keeps me humble. That dollar bill is from the $200 cash I got for a thumb surgery. Those patient IDs signify cases that make me remember that no matter how experienced you are, there are often unforseen challenges you must overcome for a great outcome. You can take nothing for granted.”
As he goes to work during this Black History Month, he gently reminds people of African-American pioneers in medicine, including Dr. Daniel Hale Williams (no relation), credited with the world’s first successful open-heart surgery, a procedure carried out in Chicago in 1893.
“It’s good that people are reminded of African-American heritage,” Williams tells a surgical technician. “We can keep misconceptions from taking hold.”