As part of Women’s History Month, Dr. Andrea Sims, pediatrician, shares her thoughts on her career and what it means to be a woman in health care.
What is your job title, and how long you have worked at Akron Children’s?
I am a general pediatrician at the Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics, Fairlawn office as well as the medical director of the hospital’s new Health Equity Steering Committee (HESC). I started working as a general pediatrician with Akron Children’s in July 2019. In January 2021, I was appointed founding co-leader of the HESC.
Do you have a favorite memory or something you love most about your job?
The thing I love most about being a pediatrician is the fact that I get to watch “our future” develop, grow and realize their dreams. In some way, I get to play a small part in helping to shape and mold them. From seeing newborns with infinite possibilities ahead of them, to the 5-year-old who talks nonstop and takes 20 minutes to answer a “yes or no” question. Seeing the transition from concrete to abstract thinking during the preteen years, and then listening to the teenagers ironing out the details of adulthood, career and their futures, I am privileged to witness it all.
What does it mean to you to be a female in the medical industry?
The nurturing and compassionate nature of a woman is what allows many women to be excellent physicians. I look at my patients as if they were my own children. For the children themselves, it is good that they see physicians who look like them, so they feel comfortable in their appointments as well as so they know this field is achievable for them, too. As an African-American female, I hope that I am the visible representation that regardless of gender, ethnicity or race, they too can succeed in the medical field or whatever their field of interest may be.
Is there a woman in history who has made a big impact in your life or inspired you?
As an African-American female who has been fortunate enough to achieve her dreams, I do so standing on the shoulder of several woman who paved the way before me. In medicine alone, and to name a few, there is:
• Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler, the first African-American female awarded a medical degree.
• Dr. Mae C. Jemison, physician, engineer and astronaut.
• Dr. Dorothy Ferebee, a physician educator and social activist who led efforts to improve health care of African Americans.
• Dr. Lillian M. Beard, a pediatrician, health educator and renowned expert.
• Dr. Renee Rosalind Jenkins, the first elected African-American president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
• Dr. Natalia M. Tanner, the first Black female certified by the American Board of Pediatrics.
While all of those women paved the way for me, it is my own mother and my late great-grandmother who have made the greatest impact. They taught me how to take care of family and take care of business. My great-grandmother passed away at the age of 105 in 2018. As person who lived through the Civil Rights Movement, she went from watching Ruby Bridges walk with armed guards to integrate the school system to watching her great-granddaughter walk across the stage after earning my medical degree. She spent her life fighting for justice and equality. I admire her resiliency and perseverance. I look to carry on her legacy as an activist for social justice and health equity.