UW surgeon included in Disney promos for Black History Month

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UW surgeon included in Disney promos for Black History Month

3 female physicians express messages of 'Doc McStuffins' kids cartoon
Bobbi Nodell

Leah Backhus, a thoracic surgeon and University of Washington assistant professor of surgery, is one of three U.S. physicians featured in Disney video promos playing during February to honor Black History Month.

The Disney Channel and Disney Junior are playing interstitials for "Doc McStuffins," a cartoon about an African-American girl who aspires to be a doctor like her mom and who runs a clinic for her stuffed animals and toys out of her backyard playhouse. The series premiered in March 2012 and is one of the top 10 shows for children ages 2 to 5, Disney said. 

“As a mom of two children, I know how important it is for them to see positive images that can serve as role models for their future,” Backhus said.

She was a founding member of the Artemis Medical Society, which promotes and supports female physicians of color around the world. The society is named for the Greek goddess Artemis, known for relieving disease and illness in women. The society, which came together after the cartoon's debut, now numbers 4,400 members worldwide.

African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans currently compose 25% of the U.S. population, but only 6% of practicing doctors come from these groups, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. 

“Doc McStuffins" was created by Humanitas Prize- and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Chris Nee. Her inspiration for the series came from her experience as a mother whose son developed severe asthma at age 2. Nee came up with an idea for a show that could help make the process of going to the doctor less scary for kids.

The other two physicians in Disney's Black History Month spots are Letitia Bradford, an orthopedic surgeon in King City, Calif., and Angela Tucker, a family medicine specialist at in Columbus, Ohio.

Editors: Contact Bobbi Nodell (206.543.7129) to speak with Dr. Leah Backhus.