Patricia Bath was born in Harlem, Manhattan in November 1942. Her father was an immigrant from Trinidad and her mother a descendent from African slaves. Her parents provided huge support in their daughter’s academics. Bath was excellent in math and science since she was young. She earned her high school diploma at the age of sixteen!
Bath’s love in medicine was mainly encouraged by the medical work of a well-known French-German physician Albert Schweitzer. It got strengthened after joining a research project that studied cancer, nutrition, and stress at Yeshiva University and Harlem Hospital Center. She earned a B.A degree in chemistry in 1964, and an M.D. in 1968 from Howard University College of Medicine. During her medical school, she took a leadership role as the President of the Student National Medical Association. She did her internship at Harlem Hospital Center and later at Columbia University.
From her internship at two different institutions, she found out that Harlem Hospital had more blind patients than Columbia University. Also, in 1967, while investigating children’s health in Yugoslavia, she discovered that medical care in eye health had not been easily accessible to some poor minorities. It was not enough for her to only become aware of the issues, but also become eager to fix them. Bath contacted her professors from Columbia and induced them to provide a free operation to blind patients at Harlem Hospital Center. Then she founded a new discipline called “community ophthalmology” which is now spread worldwide. Community Ophthalmology is a volunteered based program that provides primary care for eye health for underprivileged people.
“My love of humanity and passion for helping others inspired me to become a physician.” (Patricia Bath)
Inspiration is the key! Throughout her life, Bath has made an endless dedication to her work for medicine and public health. Her hard work reflects her kind heart and cares for others, One can’t deny that Dr. Bath is a perfect model for every female in the world to follow her dreams and never stop.