Why did you choose this career? Why did you choose this specialty?
As an ER doctor you have to be dialed into the community and dialed into healthcare. It’s’ the one discipline in medicine where you cannot cherry pick your patients. You deal with human beings a their most volunerable states – and it’s there where authentic connections are made, relationships are built and trust is fostered. Emergency Medicine is frontline medicine and we are often the only doctors that many people in our society ever see. I take my role as diagnostician and advocate seriously because sometimes I feel like the cards are stacked up against people and families and I may be the best shot at health equity in marginalized communities.
These are elements that I value in my personal life, so it was natural for me to gravitate towards a career in medicine that would amplify my human spirit.
Your professional experience: Tell us about your background as a doctor: education and experience. What are your specialties/ expertise?
Dr. NanaEfua B. Afoh-Manin is an emergency medicine doctor, public health practitioner, entrepreneur, and a champion for health equity.
After earning her Bachelor of Science at UCLA, she went on to obtain her medical degree at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. She then completed her residency in Emergency Medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center, where she served as Research Chief. At Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, she completed her fellowship and earned her Masters in Global Public Health and Disaster Medicine.
Dr. Nana has dedicated her career to raising awareness about the social determinants of health in refugee, urban, and disaster settings. When COVID-19 struck, disparities in equal access to healthcare across the United States became even more apparent. Dr. Nana worked tirelessly to found Shared Harvest | myCovidMDTM in an endeavor to provide equal access to coronavirus testing and much needed social services for the communities that would face the highest rates of mortality due to COVID-19.
What is the Shared Harvest Fund? And why did you decide to start this particular charity?
Shared Harvest is a social enterprise founded by three Black women doctors. Our mission is to spread compassion through wellness, service, and relief, providing white glove treatment to everyone, every time.
We are dedicated to improving equity in health, higher education, financial and digital spheres. Our volunteer management solution is the first of its kind to transform the liability of student loan debt into an asset class for social change. We forged a diverse network of healthcare providers that directs resources to residents in low-resourced communities in real time.
During the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, we address the student debt crisis and other social and political determinants of health. Shared Harvest is an ideal partner for any Corporate Social Responsibility programming, paving the way to a more equitable future.
What does Women’s Month mean to you? Why is it important to celebrate?
Women hold up half the sky. That’s not just a book, but reality. Yet we are rarely celebrated. Our challenges and shortcomings our usually magnified while our achievements are quickly devalued or wrapped into a new set of expectations. Either way, society often to it detriment, plays lip therapy on how we value women, but we don’t deeply understand the struggle and mental toll it takes to be always on, strong and resilient, taking care of others, breaking the glass ceiling, and particularly for Black Women, being twice as good hall the time for a quarter of the pay.
I was raised by a single mom immigrant from Ghana, and to be honest, I fell into the same mindset watching her outperform everyone around her – all the time. She was the only one in her sibling crew of 13 to get an education, highest ranked midwife at her job and eventually worked to be a critical care RN diva. All while taking care of myself and my brother. I thought she was superwoman. One night at about 2am I woke up out of myself at 13 years old and found my superwoman crying in bed. She couldn’t contain herself except to say she missed her mom (who died several months later and she could not afford to travel to attend the wedding). She had a “Bank of America” bill in her hand.
My mother’s story is not unique, unfortunately. Black women carry a lot of weight on their shoulders. Many of us carry it so long that it literally breaks our back and our souls. My team founded our organization to break the shackles of student loan debt while elevate the value of the countless hours of volunteer work that goes into the social change movements lead by women and Black and Indigenous people of color.
Women’s History month means to take a breadth and give reverence to these women and more specifically, the pain and sacrifices they made. Many who never had the pleasure of seeing the fruits of their labor and yet they forged forward anyway. It’s important to say their names and know who’s shoulders we stand on to keep forging forward. Genevieve Ama Baidoo.
What weaknesses and strengths have you discovered as a female entrepreneur? How do you use them to your advantage?
Definitely imposter syndrome and not trusting my gut. One muscle you build fast as an entrepreneur is your instincts. Failure is a great teacher. The more you fail, the faster you learn. However it’s that insidious Imposter Syndrome that makes you forget that failure is part of the process and that you are not suppose to be perfect, and there is no perfect time, but that as long as you are doing better than the day before, the week before, the month before, or even the year before – that’s still progress. For me that goes back to my childhood too – growing up in poverty, I actually never realized how much in debt we were because my mom had so many side hustles that “market woman” was just her alias and she taught me how to make my own money very early. I also learned how to read people early because I was selling at such a young age. I had read and pivot my pitches at the marketplace or lose the customer- so I guess now when the feeling comes on at this stage in my care – where a big deal makes me question if I’m the one to land it, I think about my little self pitching at the marketplace learning how to “fake it till I made it”… and it only goes up from there.
Describe your most successful accomplishment?
My most successful accomplishment career wise is making a successful pivot during the pandemic and launching our myCovidMD telehealth platform to support our health equity initiatives. It’s still humbling to know that during the greatest public health crisis of my generation, our company grew five-fold while providing jobs, getting people tested and vaccinated and building a public health community safety net for over 10,000 people. My mom used to say, you move a mountain one pebble at a time, Step by step we moved some big mountains in the last two years and we are still standing.
How can readers connect with you and your mission?
Shared Harvest is a social enterprise non-profit 501.c3 with a mission to spread compassion through wellness, service and relief. We are healthtech and a tactile emergency response to an exploding public health and education crisis. Through the pioneering of the first public telehealth platform, we promise a more equitable social safety net tethered by humans one volunteer at a time. We believe human capital is the greatest currency for building trust in our communities. Investing in the sweat equity of skills-based volunteers allows us to make healthcare more accessible, make technology more reliable, and higher education more affordable for all.