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Black Women Physicians educates the community while supporting future doctors

The Association of Black Women Physicians’ membership ranges from well established doctors to medical and pre-med students.


The Association of Black Women Physicians participates in local community service events and supports medical students.

Association of Black Women Physicians
The ABWP at a health fair at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. Photos by Jason Lewis

By Blake Carter

Since 1982, The Association of Black Women Physicians (ABWP) has empowered African-American women to lead in health and wellness fields and to impact the greater Los Angeles community through premier educational programs and philanthropic outreach.

The ABWP began when a group of African-American women physicians met to share their experiences and to discuss career development.  Since then, this group has grown to not only support the members of this non-profit organization, but to also support the medical needs in Los Angeles’ African American communities.

“We focus on educating the community about health and wellness,” said ABWP President Sylvia Gates Carlisle.  “We participate in health fairs where we direct people to health screening resources and we provide educational material.  We’ve had a combined symposium with the Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles on maternal mortality.  Although California has made significant progress in maternal mortality, Black women still die at a much higher rate.  So we educate the community on issues so that patients can be better advocates for themselves.  They can also find individuals who can be with them and advocate for them when they are patients.”

The ABWP has participated at health fairs at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, and recently they partnered with The Urban Health Society for a breast cancer awareness event at Simply Wholesome Health Food Store & Restaurant in View Park-Windsor Hills.

One of ABWP’s most impactful programs is their Sister-to-Sister Mentoring Program which helps pre-medical school and medical school students navigate their way to and through medical school.

“A lot of the mentoring is preparing them for their interviews and preparing them to write their personal statements,” Carlisle said.  “We help them to be very successful throughout the process.  This is an opportunity for us to get together with the younger students at our mentoring events.  Pre-meds all the way through retired physicians come and we provide each other support because it’s a challenging journey.  We’re making students feel comfortable as they go through the process.  When they fly to different locations for interviews, we want them to shine.  We’re giving them more tools to be successful.  If they’ve made the commitment to be pre-med, they already have the commitment and the drive.  We’re just helping them along.”

As important as guidance is, more importantly the ABWP is assisting students financially.  On Sunday, November 10, they will hold their annual charity and scholarship benefit at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills at 11 a.m.  This event has helped them give out over $750,000 to medical students over the years.

“The numbers of African-American women in medicine is relatively small,” Carlisle said.  “It’s important for us to support each other as we navigate our careers.  Although we’re small in numbers, we’re still very impactful in the amount of money that we’ve given in scholarships and we are always looking to give more.  If we all want to support our communities by ensuring that there is adequate access to healthcare, we have to have doctors.  So our goal is to support the individuals who are making the journey forward.  Medical school is a quarter of a million dollars to get through, so scholarship support are helpful.”

Tickets for the benefit can be purchased by visiting ABWP’s website at www.blackwomenphysicians.org.  Also follow the ABWP on Facebook and Instagram to find out about their upcoming community service events.