At age 5, Dr. Arabia Mollette envisioned herself becoming a doctor. At 17, she became a teen mom to a son, whose life was tragically taken away at four months. Her youngest sister was shot and killed while riding in a friend’s car just a few years later. She continued to persevere.
An ER doctor, Dr. Mollette studied at Hunter College but didn’t have money for medical school. She was awarded a scholarship to study medicine at the Latin American School of Medicine in Havana, Cuba, nearly a decade later after graduating from Hunter College.It’s where she learned to speak Spanish fluently. She completed her residency as an emergency medicine resident physician at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. Dr. Mollette’s podcast called, “The Visit,” is her platform to empower the community. Dubbed the ultimate “Lifestyle Physician,” she provides healing through entertainment, as she uses her experiences to develop creative ways to educate on hardcore true facts about the body, mind and soul and has captivated millions. Her ability to articulate her knowledge of the anatomy of the body and the anatomy of life sets her apart. Dr. Mollette’s “Modern Hero” TV special garnered 2.3 million views across the country.
Please describe how you made the decision to work in the health field as a career choice.
I grew up in a community plagued with crime and poverty. Many tragedies in my life sparked a desire to make a difference in my community. I personally experienced homelessness, domestic violence, gang life, extreme poverty, alcoholism, and depression.
I wasn’t sure what kind of doctor I’d become until two tragedies occurred in my life. Both tragedies caused me to question the doctors about their medical explanations. It revived my desire to make a difference in my community. Both times, I was advised by the physicians to become an emergency physician. Initially, I didn’t have any money for medical school. I was given the scholarship to study medicine in Cuba on a scholarship. I applied and was later awarded a full scholarship to study medicine at the Latin American School of Medicine in Havana, Cuba. I successfully completed my residency training as an emergency medicine resident physician at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. I am now an emergency physician in Brooklyn.
What are three challenges that health professional face from managed care?
As a woman physician of color, we face sexism, racism and lack of support. I still have to fight against racial biases, prejudice, and sexism from physicians and nurses of other ethnicities. Unfortunately, there are many patients that are surprised to see a Black woman physician (MD/DO). Some expressed their prejudices at the bedside. Even though I am tired of it, I will not give up. I love what I do. I love healing people of all backgrounds.
What are the three factors for the health professional which inspire to service the community?
Physicians (MD/DO) must understand the importance of learning to take care of ourselves. We are so busy taking care of our patients that we oftentimes neglect our own health and wellness which can be a disservice to our community. Many of us got into this profession for the love of healing those in need, but we neglect our own healing. What inspires me are the smiles on the faces of my patients and their families when their needs are addressed the best way possible.
Describe your specialty and why did you choose to focus on this area of health.
As an Emergency Physician, it is my goal to help everyday people find the path to a healthier and more fulfilling life. I consider myself a Lifestyle Physician because my patients remind me of various people in my life — family members, friends, and loved ones. I want to use my personal and medical experience to help people focus on healthier living and wellness. As a Lifestyle Physician, I decided to push my practice more to the entertainment and lifestyle industry because I feel that mental and physical health issues continuously get neglected and/or misinformed.
Name three things people should give up in order to live a healthier life.
I suggest to people to give up things that are major stressors depending on the person and his/her lifestyle. For example, I strongly advise people to replace the excessive consumption of soda, alcohol and other high sugar content beverages with drinking plenty of water each day, maintaining a healthy weight and positive self-esteem by exercising including run/walk, bicycling, dancing, aerobics, sports etc and increased your uptake of vegetables, fiber, calcium supplements, and incorporating a lower consumption of red/processed meats.
Stress has what effect on your health and what are ways to reduce stress?
Common effects of stress are a headache, chest pain, back pain, fatigue, sleep problems, lack of energy, lack of focus, trouble getting things done, depression, sadness, suicide, poor self-esteem, muscle tension or pain, upset stomach, decreased libido, feeling overwhelmed, restlessness, anxiety, anger, overeating/undereating, drug/alcohol abuse, social withdrawal and and sleep problems.
There are ways to reduce or manage your stress which can provide numerous health benefits. Stress management strategies include figuring out which problems you can solve now and which are beyond your control for the moment. Solving small problems one at a time can help tackle the big problems and give you confidence. Be flexible, get organized and set limits. Avoid too much consumption of alcohol, using drugs, smoking tobacco or overeating. Do your best to connect with others by talking about your problems with friends or family members that can help you feel confident and better.
If you feel that you do not have a support system amongst family and friends and can no longer cope or deal with your stress, please get help/counseling from a professional.
Does sleep play what role in your health?
Lack of sleep is a major public health safety issue. Drowsiness can slow your reaction time while driving a machinery. Lack of sleep can impair your thinking and learning by impairing your attention, alertness, learning, concentration, reasoning, and problem-solving. Chronic sleep loss can destroy your sex drive, cause depression, ages your skin and deplete your energy. Get sleep.
Why is obesity a major concern for health professionals?
According to the Journal of American Medicine, obesity is a leading preventable cause of death worldwide. However, it affects some groups more than others. Non-Hispanic Blacks, Hispanics and those with higher income are likely to have obesity. Obesity is a major concern because it is one of the biggest factors for type II Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, colorectal cancer, liver disease, sleep apnea, depression and other medical conditions that affect mortality and morbidity. Obesity affects some groups more than others.
How do diet and exercise play a role in good health?
Consumption of healthy well-balanced diet and regular exercise can lead to a host of great benefits including positive self-esteem, confidence, increased energy, happiness and living a longer life. A well-balanced diet should consist of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and a low consumption of lean meats.
What behavior changes do you suggest to most your patients?
I suggest to most of my patients to follow up with their primary care physicians (MD/DO) for preventive care. As an emergency and lifestyle physician, I do my best to encourage my patients to make positive decisions in their lives, elevating their self-esteem and enjoy their lives to the fullest despite the challenges that may come their way. Let go and let God.
How does the environment of a patient play a role in their health?
Poverty and poor health are strongly linked. Poverty is a negative independent factor that increases chances of poor health and lifelong health disparities. Unfortunately, early childhood poverty affects the probability of lifelong illness such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and neurological disorders. Also, children living in underserved areas are at greater risks of experiencing accidents and deaths. Adults living in poverty are more likely to have a heart attack and stroke. Impoverished neighborhoods often have nowhere to get fresh vegetables and fruit, but have access to fast food. Many children and adults at least develop some symptoms of depression and other mental health disorders.
What role do regular checks play a healthy lifestyle and preventive health?
General preventive medicine focuses promoting health, living a healthier life, prevention of diseases and managing the health of our communities at large.
I am committed to providing the best adequate health care to communities at large.
I work to make a difference by helping people inside and outside of the Emergency Department on various platforms.
In order to remain healthy, you must enjoy life, stay active and eat clean.
The best way to healthy lifestyle changes is understanding your limitations.
Annual checkup and visits are important. Visit your primary care physician.
Health and well are inextricably linked.
A great day for me at work results in knowing I did the best I can to save someone’s life.
Medical school attended?
Latin American School of Medicine of Havana, Cuba
Writing, podcast, singing and dancing Cuban salsa.
Favorite vacation spots?
My favorite vacation spot will be back in my second home of the island of Cuba. I lived there for many years of my life
The bad boy of R&B Bobby Brown. His autobiography Every Little Step was inspirational. Also Charlamagne Tha God’s book Black Privilege is another favorite.
Favorite human beings?
Loni Love from the show “The Real.” She started her initial career traditionally as an engineer. Then left the field of engineering and became a prime-time TV talk show host. Loni is a true inspiration!
F: @DR.ARABIA MOLLETTE