Dr. Kanika Bowen-Jallow is breaking barriers every day.
According to the American Pediatric Surgical Association, she is only the ninth Black female pediatric surgeon in the United States.
“I honestly had never thought about it before because there are so few of us, that’s always been my reality,” Bowen-Jallow told Good Morning America. “You’re just used to that.”
Bowen-Jallow says the lack of Black representation is apparent in medicine. She says it took eight years of becoming a pediatric surgeon before she met a surgeon that was Black.
“There is a sense of sadness knowing how many others like me could have attained more, without implicit bias in the world; and if minority students weren’t underrepresented in medical school,” she told Checkup Newsroom.
Made this for all friends and family that may be hesitant. The vaccination process was no big deal. pic.twitter.com/Ipy5zXBfSG— Kanika Bowen-Jallow, MD (@bowen_md) April 20, 2021
The Texas native graduated with her undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University and earned a medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch.
Then, she spent nine years training to become a pediatric surgeon, including completing a fellowship in pediatric surgery at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles.
In total, she says it took 17 years of higher education to become a pediatric surgeon, who is trained specifically to do operations on infants, children, and young adults.
“Working with children is instant gratification,” Bowen-Jallow said. “If you perform a good operation, perfect your technique and pay attention to detail. Children will recover well.”
Bowen-Jallow is now a pediatric surgeon at Cook Children’s Pediatric Surgery Center in Prosper, a town 35 miles north of Dallas.
She conducts surgery on the children’s neck to the pelvis, excluding heart surgery, according to Check Up Newsroom. She also focuses on gastrointestinal surgery and trauma and enjoys researching pediatric health disparities and pediatric obesity.
In the end, Bowen-Jallow says her work is about supporting parents and helping children recover.
“It fuels my soul, knowing I’m doing what I’ve been called to do,” she said.