Dr. Sampson Davis, one of Newark’s renowned “Three Doctors,” will be signing his newest book and talking about his experiences on Thursday, Feb. 20, at the Newark campus of Essex County College. The program, a part of the College’s Black History Month celebration, will be held from 2:30 to 4 p.m. in the 4th Level Multi-Purpose Room of the Dr. A. Zachary Yamba Building.
The program is free and open to the public, and is co-sponsored by ECC’s Office of the President and Student Life and Activities Office.
Living and Dying in Brick City: An ER Doctor Returns Home was released in paperback this month by Spiegel & Grau, an imprint of the Random House Publishing Group. It is Dr. Davis’ personal exploration of the healthcare crisis facing inner-city communities. He is a board certified emergency medicine physician at several hospitals in northern New Jersey. ast year we had an opportunity to set and talk with Dr. Davis (SD)
GN: Your new book is a collection of stories about the people you have encountered working in the ER at Beth Israel. What is the message you are trying to get across?
SD: When you look at overall health, we don’t have enough conversations about it at dinner tables, in classrooms, in congregations. There’s almost a wall between the healthcare system and the patients. It’s a complete disconnect. In the ER I see the worst case scenario, and they say, “It’s up to you to fix me.” But you have to have some investment in your own health so that you can prevent it from happening again. I wrote this book so that you can see yourself, your aunt or your grandparents in the stories. And at the end of each chapter there are resources that you can refer to for help.
GN: Doing what you do, I’m sure it can get really heavy. How did you keep your mental health in check?
SD: It was tough at first, there were a lot of sleepless nights. I questioned, “Am I doing enough? Can I be doing more?” That’s how this book came to life. As a healthcare provider, I can’t just sit and wait for you to come see me. I have to reach out. I hope to motivate other hospitals and institutions to get back into the community. There’s a lot of distrust when it comes to the healthcare system. That’s why there is that disconnect. I’ve learned I can’t allow myself to bring it home. I do things like exercise and eat right and stay true to this cause.
GN: I know your goal was always to become a doctor but did you ever think you would be a NY Times Bestselling author?
SD: Never. At all. Listen, I just wanted to be a doctor, I never planned to be writer. You just don’t know what’s waiting for you. What’s the saying? “God laughs at people who make plans.” I’m just going to keep continuously walking in this direction. Coming from Newark, growing up in the Dayton Street projects, it was tough for me to grab hold of any dream. Now I have this “celebrity” life; TV and radio. Most people from where I’m from think that the only way to get some shine is to play sports or be a rapper. But healthcare has given me that same rockstar quality of life as a rapper. So you always have to believe in your passion. You can follow what someone else is doing or you can grow by blazing your own trail.
“While working on the front line of healthcare in my community for more than a decade, I have seen remarkable resilience and I have also witnessed far too many tragedies,” said Dr. Sampson. “This is why I am sharing my experiences and offering preventative health tips, which can mean the difference between illness and health. Each of us has to be in charge of our health. It is too important to leave to chance.”
Dr. Davis was a Newark teenager at University High School when he met Rameck Hunt and George Jenkins. The trio made a promise to each other to someday become doctors, a pact that became an American success story reality. The three collaborated on the New York Times bestseller, The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfill a Dream, which chronicled the agreement that the friends made to each other back in high school. Living and Dying in Brick City is his first solo writing effort and a continuation of where The Pact left off.
In 2000, they created The Three Doctors Foundation, a non-profit offering free public programs focusing on health, education, leadership, and mentoring.
A graduate of Seton Hall University, Dr. Davis earned his medical degree from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and completed his residency in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, where he was born. Now 41, he is the youngest physician to have received the National Medical Association’s highest honor, The Scroll of Merit.
Dr. Davis has appeared on numerous talk and radio shows including Oprah, Dr. Oz, the Today Show, The View and the PBS News Hour. Visit Dr. Davis at drsampsondavis.com, or follow on Twitter @DrSampsonDavis.