Dr. Jennifer Ellis is in a very exclusive sorority. She is one of only five board-certified, Black female cardiothoracic surgeons in the U.S. The Washington, D.C. native was influenced to become a doctor partly by her psychiatrist father, who encouraged his children’s ambitions in any arena, but also by a childhood babysitter with a congenital heart defect.
Ellis knew from a young age that the heart was something she wanted to learn how to fix. After graduating from Yale and the Jefferson Medical College, Ellis picked up yet another degree in Business from John Hopkins University. She is now a senior cardiac surgeon at MedStar Heart Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C.
Ellis loves her job, despite the sacrifices she’s made and the obstacles she’s overcome. One of the primary reasons she became a heart surgeon is that its a specialty where results are tangible.
“Every specialty has its highs and lows and wonderful things about it and some things that are less fun. In cardiac surgery, we get to fix a problem and we get to put people back on a normal chain of life,” Ellis said in an interview last year.
Ellis is also passionately committed to improving healthcare for minority patients and assisting others who want to attend medical school, extending herself, despite her busy schedule, to tutoring and mentoring. She gives sound advice for anyone who wants to enter the medical field.