NYC’s First Black Female Colorectal Surgeon Breaks Barriers in Medical History

Meet Lynn M. O’Connor, the first Black female colorectal surgeon to join the New York Police Department’s medical section, marking an important milestone in the department’s 178-year history.

In an interview with Rutgers Today, O’Connor stated that it is an honor and privilege to positively impact the lives of many young officers. “It means a lot because I always say to my students and my residents, ‘You can’t be what you can’t see.'”

In her new position, she is responsible for determining officers’ fitness for duty, coordinating care, and approving medical services for line-of-duty injuries.

With a distinguished career as chief of colon and rectal surgery at Mercy Hospital in Rockville Centre, New York, and St. Joseph Hospital in Bethpage, New York, as well as a private practice on Long Island, O’Connor welcomes the opportunity to make a difference.

O’Connor’s appointment coincides with an increase in colorectal cancer diagnoses among young individuals, emphasizing the importance of early screenings. With her new platform, she hopes to encourage proactive health measures within the NYPD, emphasizing early detection and healthy lives.

O’Connor, who comes from a high-achieving family, had an interest in medicine as a child in Queens, New York. She majored in biology at Rutgers University-New Brunswick before going on to get a master’s degree from Yale University and a medical degree from Temple.

Aside from her successes, O’Connor understands the need of representation in the medical sector, pointing out that only 5.7 percent of physicians are Black, despite the fact that the Black population is 13.6 percent.

“Studies that show when African Americans are given the opportunity to be treated by Black physicians, outcomes are better,” she went on to say. “There is more trust, better communication and greater adherence to the treatment plan.”

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