Martina Caldwell 05C found her passion to serve others confirmed during her undergraduate studies at Emory. “Having a liberal arts background, particularly in women’s studies, gave me an understanding of power, hierarchies, and the community of women throughout society,” she said. A pre-med student, Caldwell realized that “biology and chemistry are foundational, but they aren’t the whole practice of medicine.”
Caldwell attended Yale School of Medicine and did her residency in emergency medicine and completed the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program at the University of Michigan. Still a practicing physician, she also serves as the inaugural medical director of diversity and inclusion at Henry Ford Health in Detroit. Her duties include treating patients, conducting research, and leading diversity and inclusion initiatives, but the core of what she provides is care and opportunity for marginalized groups.
Building on her Emory education, “my research centers on applying a reproductive justice framework in the emergency room,” she explained, because that is where people can receive care regardless of resources. “We focus on helping people before they become pregnant by dealing with any existing conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure,” she said. This approach helps ensure that patients “are as healthy as possible before they get pregnant, if that is their goal, but we also provide contraceptive counseling.”
Caldwell’s research program includes partnering with community health workers. “We focus on the entire family, which may include helping a birthing person address transportation, nutrition, housing, and other needs,” she said.
Diversity and inclusion, major drivers of Caldwell’s approach, are embodied in her work. “Detroit is 80 percent African American, and it lifts my patients up when they see me as their Black doctor. Because I’m from the same community, my patients don’t have to explain certain things to me,” she said.
Conversely, Caldwell said she learns from her colleagues who hail from different backgrounds. “They teach me about caring for people from the Iraqi community, for example,” she said. “Inclusion is about creating environments where all of us can be our best selves.”