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Meet Our Advocates: Dr. Aishat Olatunde (she/her/hers)

Where do you call home?
Olney, Maryland

What’s your specialty or area of expertise?
Ob/gyn with subspecialty training in Complex Family Planning.

What first inspired you to become a doctor?
I saw my first delivery in high school through a special class for students interested in health careers. I was in awe of the strength of the person delivering their child, but even more surprised I got to participate in such a vulnerable moment for this patient. I knew moving forward that it would be such a great honor to be provider for individuals during their most vulnerable times. Reproductive health care, especially abortion care, is frequently stigmatized and patients open up in ways that that is commonly frowned upon in society. I never want my patients to feel that stigma when I am caring for them and I am grateful when they grant me the opportunity to share that space and support them.

What advice do you have for medical students and residents wanting to incorporate advocacy into their day-to-day?
I think it’s important to remember when talking to patients about their care to make sure what we recommend is truly for them and not to just make ourselves feel better. Physicians have the mentality to want to do what they think is “good” and “right,” but it’s important to remember to listen to patients and confirm what is good and right FOR THEM. Giving patients the autonomy to make decisions for themselves is a great way to be their advocate. It shows you are listening and caring in a way that works for them.

What current policy issue especially motivates you to be an advocate?
Mandatory waiting periods for people seeking abortions is dangerous and actively harmful, particularly for those from oppressed communities. Many patients seeking abortion must navigate financial burdens, safety concerns, and travel logistics to obtain the care they desire and these policies exacerbate these obstacles. It strips individuals of their bodily autonomy and tells them that we do not trust them to make these decisions. It perpetuates the system of oppression being held over Black and Brown bodies, not allowing them to make decisions to live safe and healthy lives.

How have the events of the past few years shaped how you view being a physician advocate?
It has reminded me of how important my role as Black female physician is. As a patient and a provider, I know first hand the impact of receiving care from someone who deeply understands your experiences. Black women need to be heard and listened to. I am in a position to help make sure that they are.

What is bringing you joy these days?
Becoming an auntie to my niece and nephew, moving back to the East coast to be closer to my family and friends, grilling in my backyard, learning everything I can to become a plant parent with my husband 🙂

Our Meet Our Advocates series showcases the talents and passion of one of our doctors and finds out, in their own words, what inspires them to be physician advocates. Aishat Olatunde, MD is a current Fellow in our Leadership Training Academy Class of 2022. Dr. Olatunde practices obstetrics and gynecology in Pennsylvania.

Read more interviews from the Meet Our Advocates series.