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Review: Inspiring doc ‘Black Women in Medicine’ profiles glass-ceiling-busting physicians

It runs less than an hour, but the inspiring documentary “Black Women in Medicine” packs in enough smarts, context and emotional clarity for a far longer film. Writer-director Crystal Emery shines a vital spotlight on an unsung segment of one of the most respected professions.

The movie is filled with frank, informative, at times moving chats with a strong array of African American women working as doctors in a field long dominated by white men. Emery pointedly tracks the ways in which these driven, devoted women have surmounted racial and gender stereotyping and inequality to follow their noble calling.

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The physicians stirringly profiled here include Dr. Karen Morris-Priester, a mother of five who bucked the odds to attend college and then Yale Medical School (receiving a shout-out from Oprah Winfrey, no less); Dr. Claudia L. Thomas, the first black female orthopedic surgeon; and former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jocelyn Elders, the first African American and the second woman to hold that job. (Emery skips mention of Elders’ politically charged dismissal in 1994 by boss Bill Clinton due to her then-controversial views on sexuality and drugs.)

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Although “Black Women” is decidedly small-screen fare (it will air on Public Media platforms following its Oscar-qualifying theatrical run), the film remains essential viewing for young women of all kinds considering their career paths.

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‘Black Women in Medicine’

Not rated

Running time: 55 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills


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