Sharing my story with the Macscientists: A Day in the Life of a #MacScientist 

October 5, 2017


Hey guys! It’s my favorite time of the month…Macademics time! This month, I decided to do a feature on my aunt, Dr. Nicole Price Swiner aka DocSwiner! She’s a medical doctor and she’s amazing. She has her own family medicine practice in North Carolina and a few books out. I thought it was important to showcase other branches of science so you guys get a broad idea of different paths you may want to go.  See what she had to say below.


How/When did you know you wanted to go into STEM?

I knew probably in high school that I had an interest in science, math and caring for people in some way. I was doing well in school and babysat alot, so I and adults around me encouraged me to think about medicine as a way to combine my interests and become a doctor.

What was your journey like to become a doctor? Specifically, undergrad and medical school?

I attended Duke University for undergrad; Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) for med school; and then UNC-Chapel Hill for my family medicine residency.

Favorite and least favorite moments of your career?

Least favorite was almost failing my first year because of the struggle of learning to study and absorb massive amounts of info in a short amount of time. Fortunately, I was able to seek counseling on how to study based on my personality, buckle down, pray for strength and made it through. Best moment was probably the first time I delivered a baby on my own with the crying, happy family in the room. It was my ‘Ah-ha’moment; I’ve chosen the right career path.

Did you have a mentor? If so, what is the best piece of advice he/she gave you?

Yes, in high school, I was fortunate to work the front desk  in a dentist’s office, and he was very supportive in allowing me to shadow him while seeing patients. It was my first glimpse, first-hand, of patient care and running a business.

For girls reading this post that want to become doctors, what is one thing you know now that you wished someone had told you before starting your journey?

Never quit! Even when your confidence is low, grades are low and nay-sayers tell you to quit. Don’t. Follow the steps I did with counseling, tutoring, prayer and planning and you can make it. Ask for help, when you need it.

If you have anymore questions for DocSwiner, follow her FB page @docswiner and maybe maybe a shirt or two.

See you all next week!

-The Chemist


Black Women in Stem

Black Girl Magic

Black Doctor




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Women’s Health: My feature in Griots Republic-Taking Care of “Down There” When You’re Not Here

Shout out to Griots Republic Magazine for allowing me to be a feature writer. Check out our most recent collaboration below or on their site. They’re a great resource for travelers and adventurers! ———————————————————————————————————————————- I am a family doctor, by day, and women’s health … Continue reading Women’s Health: My feature in Griots Republic-Taking Care of “Down There” When You’re Not Here

Black Men and Mental Health Matters, Part 2….A Different Perspective.

This is part 2 of my article on Men of Color and Mental Health. Here is a different perspective from 2 Caucasian men. Share your thoughts as well……


1. With the recent news of NFL player Aaron Hernandez’s passing and the FB Live murder, how important do you feel it is to address the mental health of men (and men of color) right now?
Richard M., married entrepreneur and TV show host, Coffee & Cream TV (pictured above): 
I think ‘mental health’ really puts a certain heaviness to both of these examples. Mr. Hernandez committed suicide to a situation that, obviously, has very little hope.
I feel, honestly, that I, being relatively of good mental wellness, would consider that option as well. No form of ‘address’ would have enough of a impact.

In the case of Mr. Stephens, that could relate easily to mental illness.
Especially, since there was a considerable amount of ‘cool-down’ time in the process. His crime was calculated, even if his victim was random. 

The importance of addressing mental illness, in my opinion, would dwindle compared to more of the issue of STRESS on men in this world of multi-focal issues that are important to our Western culture as men.
Frank M., married working man and noted photographer (no picture provided):
Extremely important.
Why? Mental Health issues among men are still not widely accepted as a health issue, but are often characterized as a weakness or character defect that doesn’t require treatment and  can be conquered through willpower or moral fortitude.
2. Stereotypically, how well are we (culturally) taking care of the mental health of black men, in particular?
I still think there is a strong and resilient ‘slave’ mentality inherent in the ‘black’ culture on all economic and societal levels.
The victim stance through media and political agendas has reinforced this on a perceived level.
If money (power and influence) is not being directed at affirming and building genuine and true empowerment to the male black populace, I see little will change.
If you come out of the womb, and all through your life you are racially victimized, especially from within your own ‘color-based’ culture, even within the structure of ‘black’ families…
You truly will have little regard to your own strength…especially in the mind in regards to self-worth, problem-solving and change agency.
The stereotype that men must be strong and handle their business is a basic tenet that has very positive implications for many areas in life.  But when it comes to areas like health it is very dangerous.  This is true especially for mental health issues which lag behind even physical health with men refusing to ask for help and and are reluctant to take help. This tendency is not helped by the moral fiber or willpower argument against getting help that is reinforced by church and cultural norms.
3. What can we do differently to help? 
Racially, we must enlighten, educate and celebrate a genuine shift in positive and truthful self-identity to the ‘black’ or ‘colored’ male. This must be displayed on personal, corporate and educational level.
Not as some PC speak or behavior that either displays itself as ingenue or patronizing.
I find it frustrating as a white male with barely a High School education, that I know measurably more about the ‘dark-skinned’ struggle and accomplishment historically and intellectually on a global level.
The responsibility lies squarely on the black male and his paradigm shift .
If we, as the perceived evil ‘white’ control system, solely provide this for him…it will be just another master enslavement control and the black culture will blame my pigmentation as victims.
It will be business as usual and no difference…again.
High profile role models that have accepted help for mental health issues doing PSAs could help but the narrative for men to be strong and self-reliant will be difficult to reverse.

All in all, mental illness is a serious matter that requires much more attention, diagnosis, treatment and equal access to care. I hope that these ideas shed some light and encourage all men to get the help they need.



Men’s Mental Health Matters, Too…..

Here’s my article that is now being featured on on men of color and mental health:

We’ve just recognized National Mental Health and National Minority Mental Health Months this summer. This month is Suicide Awareness Month. Depression, anxiety and other disorders clearly have had a remarkable impact on society lately—both positive and negative.  Social media and medical outlets are reporting on various aspects regarding mental illness regularly.

With this and more and more news of issues in the minority and black male community, I thought it prudent to address what appears to be happening. I had the honor and opportunity to interview 2 black men, who were presented four open-ended questions about mental health in our society today. Let’s see what they have to say about the importance of addressing what’s plaguing our minds and spirits in the world lately.

1. A while back, there was news of NFL player Aaron Hernandez’s reported suicideand the FB Live murder, among other instances. How important do you feel it is to address the mental health of men (and men of color) right now? Why?


Levar J, black entrepreneur/motivational DOER, husband and Dad of 2:  Mental health is very ignored amongst men of color because of the perception that is shows weakness.  Men naturally want to lead and appear strong and admitting that I may not be healthy mentally doesn’t line up with showing strength.  On the other hand, mental health is ignored by parents when it comes to their boys.  It’s always been important and even more important now that we change the perception amongst men of color.  We need a new attitude of being a real man is getting help and communicating your feelings.


Ace R, black co-founder of a Brain Health research foundation and a leader in the field of HIV, single male:  The behavioral health needs of men of color have not been addressed in any systematic way for men of color. High levels of stigma still remain in communities within the Black Diaspora in addition to Latino ones as well. It is imperative that we focus on supporting families that have been decimated by disproportionate incarceration, police contact, and sustained lack of community investment in regards to education and vocational development. It is short-sighted to believe that these issues can be overcome without professional support. The brain is no different than any other organ in the body. If it is injured, professionals should be engaged just like if you break your leg or have cardiac failure.

2. Stereotypically, how well are we (culturally) taking care of the mental health of black men, in particular?

Levar J: There’s definitely room for improvement.  The difficulty is that were addressing mental health issues now that have been developing since birth in some cases.  As a result, these men are now fathers, husbands, leaders, etc. We were taught to pray it away or deal with life…..getting help isn’t a popular option.

Ace R: Black men must overcome a historical lack of access to healthcare, especially behavioral health. With expanded access, we must address the cultural shift that comes with a division of the medical field where there is little known which has led to higher levels of misinformation and stigma. Additionally, there is a dearth of Black and/or African-American psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors in the field which would engender high levels of trust within the Community.

3. What can we do differently to help?

Levar J: Overall we need to increase the communication and advertisement of getting mental health support..all mainstream media, probing patients within primary care visits, etc.

Ace R: The AMA (American Medical Association) needs to encourage Black medical students to go into the field of psychiatry tied to tuition forgiveness in underserved areas of behavioral health for Black/African-American communities which most likely will be in urban cores. We need to share the stories of well-known Black men who are publicly addressing their behavioral health like NFL player Brandon Marshall.

The intersections of life have large consequences on behavioral health. If a man is gay or bisexual, differently-abled, and/or experiencing severe mental distress, the Black/African-American communities must make an effort to fully support and uplift those individuals and not treat them as others. Currently, I serve as a Board Director for the Avielle Foundation that looks to combat violence through brain health research, community engagement and education. It is clear that we do not know enough about the brain and the impact that social stressors may have on each of us. Just like fried food, the impact on one person will be different than in another.


All in all, mental illness is a serious matter that requires much more attention, diagnosis, treatment and equal access to care. I hope that these ideas shed some light and encourage men to get the help they need.

Stay tuned for part 2 next week.


My Summer with #myprAna wear!

Hello all, I hope you’re enjoying your Summer!

This summer, I was picked to be a brand ambassador campaign for a clothing company, called prAna. Over the Summer with travel to the mountains and the beach, I’ve been wearing and trying out some items of clothing and have been very pleased. You may have seen me packing for a beach getaway with hubby or vacationing with the family on social media and caught me in some cute and comfy organic, recycled, hemp materials, supporting the environment. I was ALMOST motivated to get out and work out more. I was definitely motivated to get out in the sand and water.

Because I have curves and am of “grown woman” sizes, I was worried about the fit. However the sweater and bathing suit that I chose fit very well. Will definitely make some more purchases soon. What’s even better is that most, if not all, purchases contribute to community donations to help the world.

Would you like to? Here’s a 15% discount code: S17BLNS

Pic #1: Grown woman tings
 @prana peek-a-boo shoulder sweater. Lightweight, easy for travel, environmentally-friendly and great for the rainy weather.

Pic #2: Proof that I wore my @prana bathing suit to the spa. No phones allowed, so I snuck one! Ha, fight me! Very soft and flattering. Environmentally-friendly and cute! Take some time off and vacay this Summer!

Pic #3: Items on display. #myprAna



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You can find more info about the company and its missions here:

  1. Why Hemp Matters | Kind of A Wonder Crop
  2. Why Organic Cotton Matters | Sustainable Clothing Movement



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2 Stories of How Physicians Dealt with Burnout


We’ve been talking to doctors all around the world, and the mood is consistent. Physicians are frustrated and suffering from burn out because the old model of practicing medicine is no longer meeting their needs. From decreased compensation to desire to spend more time with our families to the combination of loss of autonomy and an increasingly impersonal and inefficient system, a career in medicine is not meeting its end of the agreement to physicians, to the health care staff, or to the patients.

So, how do we fix this?

Fortunately, this is the type of environment that causes the leaders amongst us to emerge. Not only have doctors become aware of the problems, but many of us have taken steps to discover more fulfilling ways to use our hard-earned knowledge and skills. The next step is to reach back and prevent the loss of many talented medical professionals and their creative energy that is currently taking place.

Here’s what we can do:

We need to show doctors that not only are they not alone, but that there is a thriving community of like-minded doctors who have traveled the path ready to support them. By sharing our stories, we can educate and inspire doctors stuck where we have been. We can give them permission to focus again on self-care and better work-life balance. We can provide them with the refreshing change of perspective that empowers them to reimagine life in medicine in a flavor that is more aligned with who they are and their life purpose.

We can teach them the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. That way, they contribute their creative brilliance in ways that will help them become productive members of our community, thrive and grow going forward. At the same time, we’re modeling best practices in authentic, purpose-based entrepreneurship.

We can build an ecosystem that eliminates the waste of human potential that is now manifesting as physician burnout, attrition, substance abuse, and stress. We provide creative outlets without stodgy gatekeepers with antiquated expectations and a community of support and connectedness.

Dr. Swiner’s story:

I decided after seven years in practice, that I wanted something different, something new; a side-hustle if you will. Because my husband was an entrepreneur and business owner, I had the influence already there at home. I watched how he turned a “side-gig” into a “main gig,” and he loved it. Sure, it was challenging at times, but at the end of the day, the product and reward were all his.

Once my practice separated from a hospital after my third year of practice, we became a private, independent clinic run by my partner and me. I had no previous business experience, and neither did he, but we stepped out on faith and tried it! We’ve been a successful partnership ever since.

Dr. Saint-Victor’s story:

I began to believe that the machine was training us and disempowering us at the same time. I resorted to my old adaptation of learning the information in isolation. My first two years of med school, I would skip class and lock myself away with the syllabus only showing up for exams. It worked for Harvard, so I trusted it would get me through med school. I would drop by for mandatory things like dissection and labs. I was able to take in the medical knowledge while dodging the toxic pessimism that I experienced in medical culture.

Eventually, I became a toxic complainer, too. I stopped looking forward to a brighter future. Instead, I looked forward to getting high enough on the totem pole to not be on the receiving end of random humiliation and to a salary that allowed me to dull my pain with wanton materialism.

This is my curse and my gift though. I’ve gone from living like I was on stage, petrified what some imaginary audience thought, to struggling to find my authentic meaning. My training in psychiatry, marketing, and my experience in the corporate world put me in a position to support and inspire others feeling the call to adventure. Or stuck in burnout wondering how to make meaning after decades of hard work and sacrifice. My place happens to be on the highway helping other doctors find their way to either practicing medicine in a way that feels more authentic or making a well-thought out decision to leave the field.

Our goal, as physicians, should be to create a community that raises awareness that frustration is often a signal that what you’re doing is not working. From there we will get doctors on a fast path to realizing that there is nothing pathological about how they are feeling, before damage to self-esteem and self-worth kicks in.

There is hope.