Dr. Kenyon Railey
Assistant professor within the Department of Community and Medicine and assistant chief diversity officer in the School of Medicine Office of Diversity & Inclusion. A man of many trades, Railey also sees patients as a family physician at the Duke Family Medical Center.
Years at Duke: Nine
What I do at Duke:
Railey works as an assistant professor in Duke’s Department of Community and Medicine and sees patients as a family physician at the Duke Family Medical Center. He thrives on the energy of teaching. “Learners at Duke have an energy that is infectious,” said Railey, who mostly teaches courses in the Physician Assistant Program for first year students. Railey will also serve as the course director of the new Cultural Determinants of Health and Health Disparities course, beginning with the incoming Doctor of Medicine program class of 2021. The course will be the first required Duke School of Medicine program course that will explore sociocultural influences on health and wellness.
Railey’s father, Michael Railey, was a janitor’s son who worked his way through medical school, becoming one of St. Louis’ few African-American community physicians. “Although he didn’t finish high school, my grandfather placed a high value on reading,” Railey said. “He would not give toys as gifts, rather books, so my family was made up of readers.”
What I love about Duke:
Railey appreciates the cultural diversity of Duke and Durham, both in its people and activities. “I consider myself a “foodie” and enjoy the many restaurant options in the area, specifically the Indian, Japanese and Thai offerings throughout Durham,” Railey said. Railey holds a position as assistant chief diversity officer in the School of Medicine’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion. According to figures from the Association of American Medical Colleges, about six percent of U.S. physicians are African American. Understanding different cultural backgrounds is paramount in ensuring that each patient receives the best treatment. Doctors, like anyone else, can be guilty of stereotyping. “I’m constantly trying to remind myself of my own bias,” Railey said. “It’s very important to look at patients as individuals.”
A memorable day at work:
A mother of one of Railey’s patients gave him a beautiful homemade quilt. “I use that blanket with my children,” said Railey, who has three children, ages 3, 5 and 6. “That same mother also made me spaghetti.” Often, as a physician, Railey treats patients and families during trying, difficult times. The gratitude they show in return reminds him of why he got into medicine.
A unique thing in his office:
“I have a Darth Vader Christmas Death Star ornament, which combines two of my loves. I’m a huge science fiction and ‘Star Wars’ fan. I also love the Thanksgiving, Christmas and holiday season time. ‘Star Wars’ is the ultimate story of good and evil and the November and December months are an amazing time for people of all backgrounds to reflect on life, love and giving to others”
Best advice he ever received:
“With great power, comes great responsibility.”
Something most people don’t know about me:
Railey is writing a fiction novel in his spare time, a “treasure-hunting story based on a vacation I had as a teenager.” He lists “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Jurassic Park” as two of his favorite books.
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