Lorna Dove, M.D., Healer
Columbia U. College of Physicians & Surgeons
Dr. Lorna Dove, is a Clinical Hepatologist at the Center for
Liver Disease and Transplantation (CLDT) at Columbia University
Medical Center as well as an Assistant Professor of Medicine
at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. She received her medical degree from
Columbia University and additionally holds a Master’s
in Public Health (MPH) from the University of California, Berkley.
She is renowned for her research in innovative treatments for
patients co-infected with Hepatitis C and HIV.
Here she explains her earliest roots, her motivation for success,
sources of strength, and how to find meaning and happiness
Education Update (EU): How did you choose your career?
Dr. Lorna Dove (LD): I don’t even remember making the decision to become
a doctor. It must have been early in life, because I can remember knowing that
this is what I was going to do as early as 5th grade. There were no doctors
in my family growing up...though there are few now. I had no pressure to become
a doctor, but there was certainly pressure to “do something useful.” For
me and my siblings that pressure translated into different things… lawyer,
teacher, counselor. My father is a mechanic, very thoughtful, quite a diagnostician.
I think that if he had access to different resources, he would have been a
EU: What are some of
the personal challenges you’ve
had to overcome?
LD: I think that near the beginning of my career my biggest
obstacle was my own self-doubt. I come from a rural town in
the South and early on (as young as 8 or 9) I learned that
everything is not distributed fairly, and people don’t always treat you in a fair manner. My parents told me “That’s
just life. Work to change it but don’t let it stop you!” I heard
the words but it takes a fair amount of strength to translate those words into
action. I have spent my entire life first convincing myself and then convincing
others that I can do what others are doing, and furthermore that I can do it
well. You would assume that once you have some success you would relax and
feel confidence, but that is not really true. The subtle messages that come
from racism and sexism are powerful deterrents to success that you must fight
internally everyday. The problem is that some times these messages are so subtle
you don’t even realize that you are in the midst of a battle.
EU: What are some of the achievements you are most proud of?
LD: I hope that my biggest achievement is yet to come; that’s what keeps
me motivated. I have had a fair amount of career success. I completed college,
medical school and I have a challenging job in academic medicine. However,
I would like to accomplish more in the community. I come from a family that
was active in the civil rights movement. As I get older, I realize that personal
success is only one part of the equation. Finally, if I can raise two confident,
well-adjusted, happy sons…I will give myself a hand!
EU: What was a turning point in your life?
LD: To be honest I don’t remember a clear turning point in which the
decision made changed my entire life. Instead, there are continuous small decisions
that I make all the time. With each decision, I think about how it will affect
my family, my overall goals, and myself. In some ways, I have always made the “safe” choices,
not necessarily what I would always recommend, but this is a truthful answer.
EU: Who were your mentors?
LD: I think that there are two types of mentors; those that
you know who inspire you on a daily basis and the ones that
you read about and see in the media who teach you what is
possible. The first type is easy for me to describe. My parents
grew up in rural NC not with much material wealth but with
wisdom, determination and a sense of what is right: “Always
do the right thing even when it is hard!” My father
was the president of the local NAACP chapter when it was
dangerous to even belong. They continue to mentor me.
As for the mentors
from afar…well I am always inspired
by women who achieve regardless of the forum. Think about the
obstacles that Shirley Chisholm faced and the ones that Serena
and Venus Williams face each day…the agendas are different
but the ability to face the challenge is the same.
EU: What advice would
you give to today’s youth?
LD: Determine what you want to accomplish and stay focused on that goal. Be
confident in your ability, but realize that everything takes hard work. So
often we are consumed with immediate pleasures, but most long term success
takes a little sacrifice up front. Don’t become distracted by all of
the material messages/baggage that we are bombarded with everyday. Don’t
get me wrong, I like pretty things. I also like to do things and go places,
but happiness and success are not defined by what type of purse you carry.#