Newsroom | Company News

  • Share to Linked in
  • Share to Facebook
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma well-being health advisor Tami Stegall

Employee Spotlight: Tami Stegall Makes an Impact as a Black Woman in Health Care, Sees Room for Improvement

Tami Stegall has had varied experiences in health care as a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma well-being health advisor and Black woman.

Day-to-day, Stegall says, “I am assigned cases where I follow our members care to make sure they are getting their needs met when they’re at a hospital or other type of care facility. Then, I follow up to make sure their needs are being met while they are back at home.”

She has been with BCBSOK since 2021. Prior to her time in Oklahoma, Stegall worked as a nurse in an emergency room, intensive care unit and trauma.

“I have seen more than I think I should have,” Stegall jokes.

She has experienced systematic racism and discrimination since growing up in East Detroit. 

An honor student, Stegall was in a unique class of students called the Benjamin Banneker Honors class. She attended all her classes with the same 15 students all four years of high school. Although she dreamed of becoming a pediatric cardiologist, Stegall was discouraged by her white guidance counselor, who she says told her that she was too poor to pursue that dream and needed make realistic career choices.

“I believed her because she was my counselor,” Stegall says.

Despite her counselor’s discouraging prediction, Stegall later began her health care career as an emergency room technician. It didn’t take long for Stegall to realize she wanted to be a nurse.

“When I started working in the hospital setting in my city, I saw people that didn’t look like me but didn’t care how people looked when they came into the ER,” Stegall recalls. “They just wanted to fix them and move on to the next one. It was just different. It was not what I was expecting…. I was expecting to see people not as determined to save people who looked like me. These people that weren’t Black had been taught by people who looked like me. They had been loved on and nurtured by people who looked like me during their career. As I branched out in my own career, I realized this was a unique experience and that treatment and acknowledgement for Black people doesn’t happen everywhere.”

Stegall believes she has experienced missed or undiagnosed symptoms due to a lack of concern by medical professionals and her own ignorance at the time. 

“It’s a lot of unfortunate things that happen,” she says. “I don’t think every medical professional sets out to be dismissive or cruel. However, there are very few doctors and health care professionals that are not dismissive, lack concern and have preconceived notions about Black people. I believe this is a huge part of a culture of professionals who have not be given a reason to think or act otherwise.”

April is National Minority Health Month. The annual observance brings awareness to health disparities that persist among racial and ethnic populations and encourage everyone to take action to end these inequities.

Stegall is one of an estimated 11% of Black people who make up the U.S. nursing industry. According to a 2022 Association of American Medical Colleges report, just 5.7% of physicians are as Black. 

Proud of the impact she has made in health care, Stegall believes having more Black and minority representation in the medical industry is one way to help reduce disparities and break down some long-held misconceptions. 

“I’m just praying for more Black doctors, nurses and other health care professionals and for more people to be interested in other cultures and for Blacks to be seen,” Stegall says. “Not just in the ER and hospitals, but in primary care offices as well. That’s where it starts. I’m just praying that we start seeing each other more. Block out all the titles and get back to just seeing people as human beings.”

A Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association