Advertisement

Excellence and duty: Dr. James F. Densler, the first black pediatric surgeon in the United States

      Highlights

      • What is currently known about this topic? Dr. James Densler was the first practicing black pediatric surgeon in the US.
      • What new information is contained in this article? The motivation and driving factors behind Densler's success and his lasting impact on Morehouse School of Medicine.

      Abstract

      Dr. James F. Densler is a remarkable figure in pediatric surgery for both his pioneering of pediatric operations and, perhaps more importantly, shattering racial barriers. Despite growing up in the segregated South, being barred admission to his initial medical school of choice and experiencing a racially motivated bombing while in medical school, Densler persevered with the desire to fulfill the need he saw in his community, becoming the first practicing Black pediatric surgeon in the United States. His continued devotion to service later led him become a critical figure in the education of students at the newly formed Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. Through an extensive literature review and personal interviews with Dr. Densler and his colleagues, this paper outlines Dr. James Densler’s life, surgical career, and the indelible mark he leaves behind.

      Keywords

      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'

      Subscribe:

      Subscribe to Journal of Pediatric Surgery
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect

      References

      1. Densler J.F., MD, FAAP, FACS. PDF. Accessed January 23, 2022. https://www.msm.edu/Administration/MarketingandCommunications/MSMNews/MSMNewsDocuments/October2015/BioJDensler.pdf.

      2. Densler J.F., First African-American pediatric surgeon to practice in U.S., retires from Morehouse School of Medicine. Accessed January 23, 2022. https://www.msm.edu/RSSFeedArticles/May2016/DrJamesDenslerRetirement.php?fbclid=IwAR0f_i5xbgxXlkM3Ci04mHKk7q6cnUxJHg0CSj0ZCPxbhvVhin4A2EJV1xM.

      3. Dr. Densler named alumnus of month. Savannah State College Bulletin: alumni News Issue. Savannah, Georgia 1970. p. 9.

      4. Densler J.F., J.F. Densler Interview (pt. 1 of 2). In: Williams J, editor. 2021.

      5. Densler J.F. Dr. James F Densler Interview (pt. 2 of 2). In: Anyalebechi J, editor. 2022.

      6. Warner W.C.C., M.D. Interview. In: Merritt C, editor. Atlanta, GA: Kenan Research Center, Atlanta History Center; 2005.

      7. Wyckoff A. First black member of section on Surgery a pioneer. American Academy of Pediatrics. Accessed January 11, 2022. https://publications.aap.org/aapnews/news/9720/First-black-member-of-Section-on-Surgery-a-pioneer.

      8. Black doctor saves infant afflicted by rare ailment. Jet: Johnson; 1974. p. 45.

        • Nakayama D.K.
        Vignettes from the history of pediatric surgery.
        J Pediatr Surg. 2020; 55S (Jan): 1-37https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2019.09.012
      9. Survey Results. American Pediatric Surgical Association. Accessed January 23, 2022. https://apsapdsrg.memberclicks.net/survey-results.

        • Cooper L.A.
        • Roter D.L.
        • Johnson R.L.
        • et al.
        Patient-centered communication, ratings of care, and concordance of patient and physician race.
        Ann Intern Med. 2003; 139 (Dec 2): 907-915https://doi.org/10.7326/0003-4819-139-11-200312020-00009
        • King W.D.
        • Wong M.D.
        • Shapiro M.F.
        • et al.
        Does racial concordance between HIV-positive patients and their physicians affect the time to receipt of protease inhibitors?.
        J Gen Intern Med. 2004; 19 (Nov): 1146-1153https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1525-1497.2004.30443.x
        • LaVeist T.A.
        • Nuru-Jeter A.
        • Jones K.E.
        The association of doctor-patient race concordance with health services utilization.
        J Public Health Policy. 2003; 24: 312-323
        • Modi S.C.
        • Whetstone L.M.
        • Cummings D.M.
        Influence of patient and physician characteristics on percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tube decision-making.
        J Palliat Med. 2007; 10 (Apr): 359-366https://doi.org/10.1089/jpm.2006.0145
        • Nafiu O.O.
        • Mpody C.
        • Kim S.S.
        • et al.
        Race, postoperative complications, and death in apparently healthy children.
        Pediatrics. 2020; 146 (Aug)https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2019-4113
      10. Gibbs B. UNC chief of pediatric surgery was first Black female pediatric surgeon in the United States. Accessed March 20, 2022. https://abc11.com/andrea-hayes-pediatric-surgery-unc-chief-of-dr/10403465/.

      11. Kernahan P.C., Edward. Black surgeons and surgery in America. 2021:320.

        • Morrison Z.D.
        • Reyes-Ferral C.
        • Mansfield S.A.
        • et al.
        Diversity, equity, and inclusion: a strategic priority for the American Pediatric Surgical Association.
        J Pediatr Surg. 2021; 56 (Apr): 641-647https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2020.11.011
      12. AWARDS. American Pediatric Surgical Association. Accessed January 11, 2022. apsapedsurg.org/aspa-info/about-us/awards/

      13. About Us. The James Densler Surgical Society. Accessed November 29, 2021. https://msm-jdss.weebly.com/about.html.