M. Deborrah Hyde: The Second African-American Woman Neurosurgeon


Shearwood McClelland III M.D.


Department of Neurosurgery, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN



A less publicized consequence of the Civil Rights movement in the mid-20th century is the door of opportunity it provided for African-American women to become neurosurgeons, beginning in 1984 with Alexa I. Canady (University of Minnesota).  Unfortunately, the exploits of a contemporary African-American woman neurosurgeon, M. Deborrah Hyde, have remained largely in obscurity.  This report details the career and exploits of Dr. Hyde, one of the first woman to receive neurosurgery training in Ohio. 



A comprehensive review of pertinent modern and historical records spanning the past century was performed. 



Born in 1949 in Laurel, Mississippi, Dr. Hyde received her B.S. with honors from Tougaloo College in 1969 and her M.S. in Biology at Cleveland State University.  Despite being told in medical school that she was not qualified to compete with "better prepared" non-minority students, Dr. Hyde received her M.D. from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in 1977, earning election into the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society.  The next year, she began neurosurgery residency at Case Western under Dr. Robert A. Ratcheson and Dr. Robert F. Spetzler, finishing in 1982 as the program's first female graduate.  In 1985, Dr. Hyde became the second African-American woman certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery, and in 1991 she established the Beacon of Hope Scholarship Foundation for underprivileged youth.  She has subsequently continued a distinguished career in private practice, presently residing in West Hills, California. 



The diligence, perseverance and commitment of M. Deborrah Hyde M.D., M.S. enabled her to overcome intense sexism and racism to train at Case Western, becoming the second African-American woman neurosurgeon and the third woman trained in Ohio (Carole Miller, Janet Bay).  As the first woman to train under Dr. Ratcheson and Dr. Spetzler, her determination, excellence and generosity continue to inspire people of all races. 





M. Deborrah Hyde, Case Western Reserve University, Robert Ratcheson, Robert Spetzler, African-American Woman Neurosurgeon, Beacon of Hope Scholarship Foundation



1.  Know the identity of the second African-American board-certified woman neurosurgeon

2.  Be familiar with the first woman to train under Dr. Robert Ratcheson and Dr. Robert Spetzler

3.  Be familiar with the first woman to train at Case Western for neurosurgery