The strength of our communities

Published: 18/01/2024

For Black History Month, Dr Rochelle Pierre spoke with our Media and Communications Officer Rachel Yeager, about the importance of community.  

Dr Rochelle Pierre describes herself as “quite a late bloomer;” which you would never think seeing the woman who is now an anaesthetist and charity founder, not to mention part-time DJ, and basketball hooper. But at one point Dr Pierre was much more focused on her jump-shot than her airway management:

“When I was younger, I wanted to play basketball professionally,” Dr Pierre said. “I wasn’t considered the best behaved in class, I got sent out often, but I did enjoy science. It wasn’t until I was about twenty undertaking a biomedical science degree that one of my lecturers suggested I apply for medicine.”

Dr Pierre didn’t consider medicine at first because of her childhood with limited role models, something she says still affects her.

“I often get imposter syndrome,” Dr Pierre said. “I often think to myself, ‘Should I really be here?’ and I think that stems from growing up in Hackney and being told I would never get into medicine. Growing up, I didn’t have doctors in my family, I didn’t know any doctors at all. And I fell into ‘if you can’t see it you can’t be it.’”

Taking her own experiences as inspiration, Dr Pierre founded a charity that provides outreach work in schools, community groups, and colleges to encourage young people to think about a career in medicine.

“Seeing young black doctors in person shows young people this is something they can achieve,” Dr Pierre said. “Its great when you share this information, and you get feedback that so many people are feeling like they can actually consider this for themselves whereas before they didn’t even think about it [a career in medicine].”

Dr Pierre’s charity is the British Caribbean Doctors and Dentists’ Association (BCDD), which was founded in 2019. In addition to its outreach work, the BCDD also provides networking opportunities.

“I initially started the charity because during all my rotations I didn’t see any Caribbean doctors,” Dr Pierre said. “I knew they were out there, but we were so far spread that we never crossed paths. And it’s quite nice to share experiences with someone who is also Caribbean. It’s so important to have a peer group and people you can talk to.”

And outside of her professional and charitable work Dr Pierre enjoys music and DJing. For the last two years she has DJ’d at London’s Notting Hill Carnival, which gives her the chance to celebrate her culture.

“Music speaks to me,” Dr Pierre said. “Music and carnival is a major part of my [Caribbean] culture. From when I was really young my mum has taken me to Notting Hill Carnival. I love being a part of a huge community event that brings people together.”

Indeed, that seems to be a common thread throughout Dr Pierre’s life: bringing people together.

Dr Rochelle Pierre is a CT4 anaesthetic trainee working in North West London. To learn more about Dr Pierre’s charity, the British Caribbean Doctors and Dentists’ Association, please visit their website.