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MIRION P. BOWERS

A NATIONAL IMPACT Dr. Mirion P. Bowers’ influence in medicine stretches across the nation. He is pictured here with his son, Jeryl (left), and former U.S. President Barack Obama.

Dr. Mirion P. Bowers, who graduated from FAMU in 1957, is a man of many legacies. The retired clinical professor at USC and assistant professor at UCLA began his legacy in medicine by becoming the first African American to have a residency in ENT (ear, nose and throat) and the first person of color to be president of the Teaching Hospital of USC, the secondoldest hospital in Los Angeles. He built on his legacy by establishing the otolaryngology residency program at Martin Luther King, Jr. General Hospital. The hospital opened in April 1972, and by the following October, Bowers had managed to open an approved ENT residency program – an “unheard of” feat. He said that, at the time, it was the only place Blacks could get into ENT. Today in general, according to Bowers, ENT is a difficult specialty to enter. With the closing of the King Hospital in 2007 (it reopened in 2015 as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital) and fierce competition in the field, many Black medical students find it difficult – if not impossible – to enter ENT programs. This dearth is evident in meetings of the National Medical Society, the largest and oldest organization representing African-American physicians and their patients in the United States. In the past, four to five Black ENT residents would attend the meetings, Bowers recalled. Now there are none. With his tenure ended as head of the MLK ENT, there is also no Black leadership in the field – which has created a breakdown in the networking apparatus that is often so critical to getting Blacks in ENT programs. Not only do medical students suffer the consequences, but so do patients and the next generation of medical scholars. “It’s good to have prominent Black people in every field of medicine so that Black patients have a choice,” Bowers said. “We have an understanding of African Americans that no one else has. It’s good for young people to see someone successful in certain fields, so that they can say, ‘Maybe I want to be like him.’” Bowers, who has 11 siblings and 30 nieces and nephews who received their degrees from FAMU, has another legacy – that of giving back. He named FAMU, as well as his other alma mater, Meharry Medical School, as a beneficiary of a $1 million life insurance policy. Of the $500,000 to go to FAMU, $400,000 is slated for scholarships and $100,000 for the University’s Meek-Eaton Black Archives. “If one is successful, you need to give it back to the community, give it back to those entities that helped you become successful so that they can provide to others and their success,” he said. 36 // FLORIDA A&M UNIVERSITY // A&M MAGAZINE

Profile for FAMU Communications

Summer 2017 A&M Magazine  

Welcome to the summer edition of the award-winning A&M Magazine. This issue highlights alumni, students, faculty, staff, programs and partne...

Summer 2017 A&M Magazine  

Welcome to the summer edition of the award-winning A&M Magazine. This issue highlights alumni, students, faculty, staff, programs and partne...