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Geoffrey Herndon, DO

Geoffrey Herndon, D.O., is a current PGY3 resident, and a member of the Department of Pathology's Diversity Task Force. This group meets regularly and includes representatives from around the department, including faculty, staff, and trainees. Here, Dr. Herndon answers some questions about his experiences with diversity.

  • Where were you born and raised?
    I was born and raised in Springfield, Missouri. Springfield is the third-largest city in Missouri and is located in the heart of the Ozarks. The natural beauty in that area, in my opinion, is completely unmatched.
  • How long have you been at UAB and how did you come to be here?
  • I have been at UAB for a little over two years now. I actually ended up here by pure luck. I had spent the vast majority of my life in Missouri, and had never really experienced much outside of the Midwest. One of my best friends during medical school [Dr. Herndon attended A.T. Still University, Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine], Gabriel Collins (incoming hematopathology fellow 2022-2023), had mentioned this was his absolute favorite place he interviewed at. He described the warm and welcoming personalities and the structured learning environment here.

  • I actually only interviewed at three different institutions due to the craziness that was my life at the time (wife had just given birth to our second child), and I made sure UAB was a priority. My interview here was incredible for a variety of reasons. The first was the amazing weather- Alabama is far more pleasant than Missouri during the winter months. 

    I felt like I really fit in well with the residents, and had many shared interests. Additionally, the attending physicians I interacted with all seemed extremely knowledgeable, were pleasant to interact with, and seemed to have a vested interest in recruiting me to the program. After a lengthy discussion with my wife, we both decided that this was the best place for us to get excellent training and raise a family.

  • How has diversity impacted your personal life? Your career? 

    Even though I am a heterosexual white male, I still like to believe I have my own set of diverse characteristics. I spent the majority of my youth living with my grandparents, secondary to my parents' personal struggles with drug addictions. This struggle additionally placed me in a very low socioeconomic class, creating its own set of difficulties. Seeing how negatively addiction can affect a person's ability to function is a somewhat unique experience I've had, though I know many others have experienced it themselves. This sort of unique upbringing has allowed me to be more empathetic and understanding to people going through those struggles.

    Diversity has affected my personal career as well as a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. I'm already in the minority of physicians, however, UAB has never made me feel like a "second-class" physician because of my different training background. Additionally, after recently completing my professional development block, I realized how strongly unconscious bias can affect us. For myself, I realized that while I have a diverse group of friends and colleagues, at first I tend to gravitate to people more similar to myself (i.e. white male). Simply being aware of this unconscious bias has allowed me to re-focus my efforts on approaching each person as an individual, regardless of their background or characteristics. This sort of realization, I believe, will help me to assist our program in recruiting the best possible applicants and increase the diversity among our residents.

  • What is a change you would like to see at UAB regarding diversity?

    I feel that UAB, and the Department of Pathology as a whole, have done a great job with regard to diversity. I think that if we can continue to show we are placing an emphasis on making everyone feel included and accepted then the department will continue to flourish. As an individual effort, I plan on trying to interact with each of my co-residents, techs, and faculty members in a positive and inclusive manner.

  • What have you gained from serving on this committee?

    I was initially skeptical at what role I would play in this committee, seeing as how my background characteristics are among the most common in the United States. However, I quickly realized I could gain a great amount of understanding just from listening to the other diverse members of the committee. The committee has allowed me to understand and interpret different interactions and feelings that have a wide array of individuals have. In general, it has made me a more understanding, inclusive, and empathetic human.

  • What would you like others to know about you or your culture that will affect how they treat you here?

    I'm generally a very open and honest individual and can be extremely blunt (which can be both good and bad). This directness is a byproduct of my upbringing. I would just like others to know that even though I'm blunt and open (similar to my grandmother) that I do care for others and their feelings. I do not want people to interpret me as rude, and to understand that I have a very direct and to-the-point speaking style.