Black Dollar Magazine


For Black entrepreneurs, creatives, decision-makers and executives

Sign up for FREE BDM newsletter

Dr. Lattisha Bilbrew's “Yes, I Am the Surgeon” tops Amazon's Best Sellers book list during Women's History Month

Dr. Lattisha Latoyah Bilbrew's book, “Yes, I Am the Surgeon: Lessons on Perseverance in a World That Tells You No", is available on Amazon.

Dr. Lattisha Bilbrew's “Yes, I Am the Surgeon” tops Amazon's Best Sellers book list during Women's History Month
Dr. Lattisha Latoyah Bilbrew, author of “Yes, I Am the Surgeon: Lessons on Perseverance in a World That Tells You No". SUBMITTED PHOTO 

Dr. Lattisha Latoyah Bilbrew is used to the word ‘no.’ But that negativity is something that she uses to this day to fuel her passion for orthopedic medicine.

And now she’s using that same desire to prove people wrong with her new book, “Yes, I Am the Surgeon: Lessons on Perseverance in a World That Tells You No.”

It was recently No. 1 on an Amazon Best Sellers list for orthopedics in its first week after debuting on March 8.

“I think what happens when you’re in elementary, middle, and high schools is that the teacher encourages kids because no one's going to tell someone who is 10 years old that they can’t achieve their dreams,” Bilbrew, a surgeon specializing in hands, wrists, shoulders, and elbows at Resurgens Orthopedics, told Black Dollar Magazine. “Then you hit college or become a senior adult. It’s the first time you meet people who can tell you that you’re not capable of achieving something.”

Her journey to becoming one of five Black orthopedic surgeons in Georgia is well known among residents. But the path was paved with obstacles — moving from Birmingham, England, to Orlando, Florida —  as someone with Jamaican roots in places where few Black people she was around could identify their diaspora.

She came to the U.S. when she was eight, with her sister and parents. Before she arrived, Bilbrew said she developed an interest in medicine after witnessing her grandmother deal with medical complications in the U.K.

“I don't know if it was a nurse or a doctor, but they came in with some medication, and there was no passion or empathy. It left me with the idea that when you're dealing with people going through illness or sickness, you have to come from a place of kindness and love,” she said.

“Every patient that leaves the practice should know the diagnosis, the prognosis, the treatment, and where they're going from here. They don't have to tell me it back in the exact medical terminology, but they need to understand their disease and treatment process, and that I'm there for them (in that regard),” Bilbrew added.

The front cover of Dr. Bilbrew's book, "Yes, I Am the Surgeon". SUBMITTED PHOTO

'As long as you don't say it to yourself': 'No' means keep going

From her undergraduate days at the University of Miami, where she earned a degree in neuroscience and chemistry, to Morehouse School of Medicine for a medical degree, and on to the University of Texas Medical Branch and the University of Florida College of Medicine for an orthopedic residency and a fellowship, respectively, Bilbrew said she has never allowed naysayers to slow her trajectory.

To amplify, Bilbrew recalls a moment when she told her advisor at the University of Miami that she wanted to go to medical school. After knowing her for five years, she expected to see full support. But instead, she received the opposite.

“She told me 'you don’t have the grades to get into medical school' and said that minorities tend to do better in health psychology,” Bilbrew said. “I respected her. She was well-dressed, well-kept and well-spoken. It crushed me for about three seconds, but I remember taking a deep breath and saying, ‘Alright, so I can’t come back to you for advice.’ I later heard from other people who said the same thing to them. Some of them were nurses and some of them were psychologists. They didn’t pursue their dream because one person said no.

“I can tell you from experience that it does not matter who tells you no or how many times they say it, so long as you don't say it to yourself,” she added.

Today, Bilbrew is using her experience to mentor young people, specifically young Black women and people of colour in high school districts around Atlanta. She hosts a brunch that includes a panel with Black women physicians.

“We show them and build with them: this is how much money we make; this is our lifestyle; this is how much we work. This is what our family looks like, and this is the educational process. We mentor them through fellows to ensure that Black residents in medicine finish,” Bilbrew said.

She also sits on the board of a Black orthopedic society. By showing mentees they can be more than doctors or surgeons, she added she encourages folks to embrace your uniqueness in any field they enter.

“What's great about medicine is that you can pursue anything and everything (entrepreneurial on the side). I have friends that model on the side, I have friends that have their eyeliner or eyelashes, that have their own makeup line, so any passion project that you have, you can pursue,” she said.

Yes, I Am the Surgeon: Lessons on Perseverance in a World That Tells You No” is designed to inspire. Bilbrew said if "I can do it, you can do it too."

She also wants you to know it's not a self-help book.

“I was specific about the book cover and showing the surgical tools. And then the last one is lipstick. I didn't want to make this a book about Black people or white people. It's not a self-help book. I wanted to make this about perseverance and being unique,” Bilbrew said.

“I am not a grey-haired, white, old man, and I wear red bottoms. I wear lipstick. You don't have to, but you find whatever is for you and be you,” she added.