“It’s This Community I Wanted to Serve.”
Carla Moreira MD’08 RES’10
Favorite Thing About Rhode Island: “It’s small. You’re right next to everything.”
Favorite Rhode Island Food: Clam cakes and chowder
Carla Moreira MD’08 RES’10 was born in and spent the first 10 years of her life in Cape Verde, an island nation off the western coast of Africa. There, her mother was a nurse educator for a women’s health clinic, and traveled to remote areas to let women living in rural areas know about the clinic “so they would come there for their maternal health care,” says Moreira, who accompanied her mother on some of these trips. “I really connected with medicine in terms of the power of being able to help and be of service. I thought that would be a great kind of career.”
After immigrating to the United States, her family settled in Pawtucket. Moreira earned her bachelor’s degree from Rhode Island College and knew that she wanted to go into medicine. “Brown was the dream school in terms of deciding to become a doctor,” she says. While she did a residency in surgery in Chicago and a vascular and endovascular surgery fellowship in Boston, she knew she wanted to come back.
That’s because Moreira, who speaks English, Portuguese (Cape Verde’s official language), Cape Verdean Creole, and Spanish, wanted to work in a diverse community and have a diverse practice. “I really like being able to speak all those languages” at her job, she says. “It’s this community I wanted to serve, and this community I felt most comfortable in.”
And while major cities like Chicago and Boston are also multicultural, she found that the patients who came to academic medical centers for care were mostly affluent and white. Few of her patients there, for example, knew that Cape Verde was an African nation, instead guessing it was an island in the Caribbean.
That’s not the case now. “We’re the only major health center of the only academic medical school in the state. It’s a hub, and you see this real diversity in the city and state in terms of the patients that we care for,” she says.Moreira, an assistant professor of surgery, clinician educator, is also the diversity officer for the Department of Surgery, and works toward making health care more equitable but also in bringing more kinds of people into the medical field. “Having people who look like me and who grew up in the same circumstances working in health care means that we can be better health care providers for everyone in our communities,” she says