We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Helene Okpere and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dr. Helene, what do you want your legacy to be?
During one of my residency interviews, I was actually asked this question. What do I want my legacy to be? I broke it down into 3 parts: I wanted to be known for how well I took care of my patients, for being fearless in the way that I advocate for others along with being fearless when it comes to trying new things, and lastly, for being intelligent while also knowing how to be a leader, be innovative, and be creative.
My goofiness and sense of humor is an added perk.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am currently an emergency medicine physician resident in Atlanta, GA with plans to graduate in 2023 and become an attending physician (no longer in training). I’d like to say that I am set apart from others through my clinical skillset, nurturing bedside manner, and positive attitude.
I am most proud at work when I am told by others that a patient pulled them aside and mentioned to them that they enjoyed me as their doctor and appreciated the positive way that I made them feel. It has happened quite a few times. I am also proud when I take great care of patients in an acute (emergency) setting and watch them get better in front of me as a direct result of the decisions that I made.
Getting to where I am now, was an arduous journey that I discuss in detail on my YouTube channel, Hey Doctor Helene. If you are interested, you should go check it out! It was definitely not easy, but it is a privilege and it has been rewarding. Along the way, I’ve learned to enjoy all of the journey–even the bad. Becoming a physician will always be difficult, and it only gets harder and harder the more you advance. So, I have been teaching myself to love whatever stage that I am in in the journey as every stage I go through is just as important as the next.
I want the world to know that I share my story in hopes to inspire others and to give insight to those interested in becoming a physician. I especially do this for underrepresented minorities as I am a black, female physician who understands and experienced the struggles of not having enough representation through this process. It’s hard to become what you do not see. So, having more black men and women in medicine is important to me. I also use my social media as ways to foster mentorship. I share the highs and the lows and keep my social media authentic. I want people to see my story and understand that they are not alone. It is something that I am proud of and will continue doing.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My home girl is visiting ATL you say? I have some things in mind. We could start the day at breakfast at barney’s, sun in my belly, folk art, or highland bakery to name a few brunch spots. If we wanted lunch instead, we could go to El bandido, slutty vegan (if there’s no line), or ocean wave for sushi. If we were feeling adventurous, we would do iron age korean bbq. If wanted to pick up some food and eat outside, I’d definitely pick up some dat fire. We could get drinks literally anywhere, but James room would be nice, or slush would be a great place to drink and turn up. Speaking of the turn up, bar vegan is one of my favorites! I’d also love to get some bubble tea at sweet hut in midtown. We could hang out on the beltline, go to a karaoke spot, spend the day at spa land, or even do what I love most which is spend time at homegoods/ross for some “me time” rejuvenation. Lastly, we can do some good ole hiking at any nearby trail or stone mountain. The list doesn’t stop here because there’s so much to do!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to dedicate my shoutout to my mother, Tena, who encourages and supports my dreams no matter what! I’d also like to recognize the rest of my family, my mentors, and close friends who have also been there for me throughout this journey.
Other: https://linktr.ee/HeyDrHelene tiktok: @helene_the_queen
Lauren Casey Flowers