Black History Month inspires VUMC dermatologist Aleta Simmons’ office door makeover
Adorning the figure’s shoulders, Simmons has placed photos of friends and colleagues in her network of African-American female physicians.February 7, 2019
Aleta Simmons, MD, came in on a Saturday and, with the help of friends and inspiration from Instagram, created a head-turning celebration of Black History Month. Photo courtesy Aleta Simmons
It’s a celebration of history, a vision of the future, and it looks pretty fabulous, too.
In the spirit of Black History Month, dermatologist Aleta Simmons, MD, and friends decorated her office door in the Dermatology suite at Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks.
Simmons came across the original of her door’s artful design on an Instagram post. Being struck by it, she had posted the image to her Facebook page.
“I placed a note by my door explaining that this is in celebration of the black women physicians in my life. I wanted to highlight these women because I am where I am because of them, and they continue to push me and support me through my journey in medicine.”
“It was done by a teacher, so in posting it I joked that I needed one of my teacher friends to come re-create this door for me at my office. I honestly didn’t think anybody would seriously say, ‘Yes, I’ll come decorate your door.’” Next thing, Simmons was contacted by a fellow parishioner of her hometown church, Trinity New Hope Christian, in Mayfield, Kentucky (pop. 9,999). “They brought all the stuff and decorated my door for me.”
The materials are poster board and construction paper, and the crafty fellow congregants are Jenny Brown (“Miss Jenny”), and her daughter, Chelsea Brown.
“I helped by following their directions,” said Simmons, assistant professor of Dermatology. And the fabulous headscarf? Simmons walked down one floor to the shops at One Hundred Oaks and snapped up two scarves.
Adorning the figure’s shoulders, Simmons placed photos of friends and colleagues in her network of African-American female physicians.
“I placed a note by my door explaining that this is in celebration of the black women physicians in my life. I wanted to highlight these women because I am where I am because of them, and they continue to push me and support me through my journey in medicine.
“African-American physicians only make up about 4.5 percent of the physician population, and the black women within that population make up a group that’s much smaller. Representation matters in medicine, not just for our patients to see that we exist, but also for our colleagues. Our numbers are small nationally and at VUMC — there needs to be more of us in the hospitals and in the clinics.”
Simmons is considering storing the design for re-use next year, and perhaps then introducing a new theme with a new selection of photos.
“It’s so pretty I don’t want to take it down,” she said, laughing.