Alumna recounts her inspiring journey

Author and entrepreneur Lattisha Bilbrew, B.S. ’07, M.D., is one of only five Black female orthopaedic surgeons in the state of Georgia.
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A conversation overheard by Lattisha Latoyah Bilbrew, B.S. ’07, M.D., during her first year at a health magnet program at Apopka High School in central Florida changed the trajectory of her life.

“I heard a graduating senior say, ‘I am going to the No. 1 school in the state—the University of Miami,’ and I thought to myself, if it’s the best, then I’m going there too, no matter what it takes,” remembers Bilbrew.

She made it to the U and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in neuroscience and chemistry. But that accomplishment would only be the first step in a journey that took her from immigrating to the United States from England at the age of seven to being one of only five African American female surgeons in the State of Georgia.

“I knew I wanted to be a physician from the time I was three years old,” says Bilbrew. “While I was visiting my Jamaican grandmother at a hospital in England, I watched her be mistreated and I knew in that moment I wanted to be a doctor. But I did not want to be a doctor like the ones I witnessed; instead, I wanted to be someone who was empathetic, understanding, and would make sure a patient like my grandmother understood everything that was happening to her.

Dr. Bilbrew with Pat Whitely, Ed.D. ’94, at a Black Alumni Society reception and Pancakes with Pat event in Atlanta. Photo: Kim Evans

Bilbrew spent an eventful and memorable four years at the University involved in everything from Greek life to the United Black Students organization. “I was super involved on campus; it was an amazing time where that part of me that wanted to learn was nurtured and I was able to overcome any obstacles that stood in my way,” explains Bilbrew. “I learned the life skills I needed that I still use to this day. The U taught me how to deal with life, how to balance my life, and how to give back to my community.”

A community of people like herself is what she also found at the University, and she credits the institution’s commitment to diversity for making that happen, especially one particular leader. “I like to say the University was very diverse, before it was cool to be diverse,” Bilbrew says. She credits Patricia Whitely, Ed.D. ’94, senior vice president for student affairs and alumni engagement, for being a true champion of DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion). “Her commitment to DEI shows her leadership and commitment to the University and its students.”

Bilbrew received her medical degree from Morehouse School of Medicine, completed her residency at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, and fellowship in hand, studied elbow, shoulder, and microsurgery at the University of Florida. She is now the first Black female orthopaedic surgeon to become a partner at Resurgens Orthopaedics in Atlanta.

Her propensity to be super busy like in her undergraduate days has not changed considering the responsibilities she has outside her thriving practice. She speaks before Congress on behalf of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and is a member at Large for the Ruth Jackson Orthopaedic Society. She also just finished authoring a book “Yes, I Am the Surgeon.”

Bilbrew says she juggles it all, including being a single mother to her three-year-old son, because of what she learned on the Coral Gables campus. “The University taught me how to organize, execute and follow up.”