By Sara Wright, Guest blogger, PGA TOUR
Dr. Amber Hardeman is an inspiration.
Not only does she have an incredible work ethic and multiple degrees, including a B.A. in Spanish Language and Literature from Vanderbilt University, a Master of Public Health from the University of Alabama, a MBA from Tulane’s Freeman School of Business and a Doctor of Medicine from Tulane School of Medicine, all of which she earned before the age of 30, but Amber has made it her life’s mission to serve the underprivileged with her career in medicine.
And in the midst of everything that this country is currently experiencing – the civil unrest, the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis – this personal aspiration, to work tirelessly on the front lines to decrease the disease’s burden on the minority population, is proving ever more important.
“It’s tough and humbling to work so hard while feeling I have not mastered anything,” Hardeman said in a recent interview with Forbes. “I entered medicine to help minimize disparities and inequality in healthcare. COVID-19 has proven to affect an incredibly disproportionate number of African Americans due to a multitude of factors, including racism, socioeconomic disadvantage, barriers to access and higher rates of co-morbid health conditions. Regardless, no matter how difficult things have been, I am very grateful for the journey.”
Her journey can be, in large part, traced back to her time with First Tee. Little did she know, when she started with First Tee of Dallas in 2005, the program would significantly transform her life. She gained dozens of opportunities and progressed into a great golfer, but more importantly, she says, it was through First Tee, she also learned to be an excellent person. Each new opportunity affirmed fundamentals she learned from the program, ranging from communication skills to goal setting to how to keep calm in stressful situations.
“It was after being named ‘Most Outstanding Female Golfer’ and ‘Most Outstanding Female Leader’ in my chapter, that I was truly reassured that I wanted to use my skills to positively impact other people,” Dr. Hardeman said. “The confidence I gained in First Tee has helped me make changes in my local community as well as worldwide. I developed a passion for service and helping others. Not only did I do community service trips in Europe, but also completed medical missions in South America. As a current physician, I still strive to use the tools I learned in First Tee to meaningfully contribute to my patients and community.
“When I think of First Tee, I think of character development and life connections,” she continued. “First Tee has meant more to me than I ever thought possible. As I progressed through different skill levels from Par to Ace, my immediate and future goals simultaneously took form. One of the first things we learned was how to set and achieve reachable goals. I’ve been doing that ever since 2005 and plan to continue doing so throughout my career.
A career that has led Dr. Hardeman to her position as a resident physician in Internal Medicine-Pediatrics at Tulane School of Medicine and entering what she describes as a ‘battle zone’ in New Orleans. As a bilingual African American woman, she breaks through the language and cultural barriers to help treat the patients and not ‘just’ the disease. She does her best to ameliorate pain, suffering and disease for her patients and aspires to decrease disease burden on the minority population.
“A worldwide pandemic isn’t something anyone can fully prepare for,” she said. “Yet, one of my biggest take-aways from the program was to learn to accept the uncontrollable. I can’t count how many times situations occur in golf that are unpredictable or incredibly difficult. Progressing through medical school and becoming a doctor is quite similar. I learned patience, respect, problem solving, and how to maintain focus. Above all, I learned to never stop learning. First Tee taught me that there is always room for improvement. I always strive for excellence.
“Because of my experiences,” she added, “I know that no matter what you are doing in life you can always be better, you can always continue to work and grow to become the best version of yourself possible.”
Now, if that isn’t a message worth spreading, I don’t know what is.
Featured on the PGA TOUR: View Amber’s Story on PGATOUR.com