I’ve Already Achieved My Dream: Our Cover Model
By Annette Pinder
Kenyani Davis, MD, MPH is Chief Medical Officer of Community Health Center of Buffalo (CHCB) in Buffalo, Lockport, Cheektowaga, and Niagara Falls. She grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, always knowing that she wanted to become a doctor, hoping to someday become the U.S. Surgeon General.
Dr. Davis received a master’s degree in Biomedical Science and a Doctor of Medicine degree in Dominica, West Indies. She completed her residency in Internal Medicine/Social & Preventative Medicine and Master of Public Health degree at University at Buffalo. A Clinical Assistant Professor at UB School of Public Health, Dr. Davis teaches social determinants of health, and is also a Clinical Assistant Professor at Jacobs School of Medicine. She serves on the African American Health Disparities Task Force, the Governor’s Task Force, has authored numerous publications, and earned way too many awards to list.
Dr. Davis is thrilled to be practicing at CHCB, saying, “I love public health and had this vision of how I wanted to practice, teach, and help people. At CHCB we see people from all walks of life. Recently, walking into our waiting room, I saw a retired teacher sitting next to a priest, talking to a young black man who had been in jail, talking to females who had been in and out of rehab, all enjoying one another. None of these people would have rubbed elbows with each other had they not come to CHCB. We don’t need a diversity committee at CHCB. We live and breathe diversity. Our entire workforce comes from the community. And, with our entire staff fully vaccinated, we are proud to serve as examples to the community.”
When Dr. Davis sees patients, one of the first things she asks is, “What do you need from me today?” She explains, “Each patient comes for a different reason at different times. It could be a physical ailment or a life issue. I have to be present in the moment, at the right time, for the right person. Wellness is comprised of mind, body, and spirit, and I am the physician who will pray for you in the room. I am the physician who knows that human connection is more important than getting a perfect grade in organic chemistry. More physicians need to learn this.”
Dr. Davis believes we need to view health care as a human right, and talks about social determinants of health, which are impacted by neighborhoods in which people live, their access to nutritious food, medical care, transportation, jobs, education, and more. “It’s like peeling an onion, and seeing the layers. Buffalo is outlined by geographic barriers to health, and we need to address that, especially in certain zip codes where people are struggling disproportionately with chronic health conditions and comorbidities like hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.”
Dr. Davis says caring for people during the pandemic has been exceptionally challenging. She says, “So much is expected of physicians, physician assistants, nurses, and clinicians. Many people my age are leaving the medical profession. We really need to humanize medicine.” Realizing that she needed to start taking better care of herself, Dr. Davis began her own wellness journey four months ago. “I got a peloton, started waking up 20 minutes earlier, purchased a book of affirmations, and have been enjoying yoga and meditation.” She believes in eating in moderation, and when not at work, enjoys time at home with her husband and three children playing board games, hanging out, and watching tv.
Reflecting on her choices, she says, “I’ve led a challenging life — pregnant at age 19, raised by a single mom, and living in neighborhoods much like the east side of Buffalo, I shouldn’t be here. But I am. When asked if she still aspires to become the U.S. Surgeon General, she says, “I love where I am now. While I am open to wherever life takes me, I realize I’ve already achieved my dream, so everything else is icing on the cake.”