Advancement and
Alumni Engagement

Martina Caldwell 05C

Physician-Scientist | Medical Director of Diversity & Inclusion | Henry Ford Health | Detroit, MI

Martina Caldwell strives to make “good trouble,” creating transformational change toward health justice through collaborative and courageous processes rooted in anti-oppression. Many of the skills she uses today were nurtured during her time at Emory as a women’s studies major. This academic path exposed her to diverse thinkers, theories, and social justice leaders. Her studies also enabled her to immerse herself in experiences that taught her about power and privilege, truth and reconciliation, and community healing.

After graduation, Caldwell attended Yale School of Medicine and went on to the University of Michigan, where she was a chief emergency medicine resident and completed the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program. These experiences have enabled her to have a purposeful and rich career as an emergency medicine physician, health equity researcher, and justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion executive leader.

“Emory helped me lean into my own uniqueness and harness my gifts and interests to be of service to others. Emory opened a world of possibilities to me through the brilliant educators who shared their knowledge, dynamic leaders who shared their wisdom, and energetic students who shared their passion. Emory also revealed my limits and showed me that I could overcome adversity. All of these exposures are foundational to my professional and personal being today.”

    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.”