Sunday, July 3, 2022

Looking at the Life of Nevada’s First Black Female Pediatrician

May 16, 2022 by  
Filed under Health

BY PAUL HARASIM

Dr. Beverly Neyland

Growing up in the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s, Beverly Neyland realized that before her parents took her and her brother and sister on a car trip, they had to know in advance where they’d stay. The African-American girl didn’t know why, just figured it was one of those parental prerogatives.

But many years later, in 2018, when “The Green Book” opened in movie theaters, she learned why. An Oscar-winning film named for a Jim Crow-era travel guide written by Victor Hugo Green that highlighted safe places for Blacks to stay and eat while on the road. The movie tells the story of an unlikely friendship that develops between a Black classical pianist and his white chauffeur and bodyguard as they experience a concert tour chock full of racism.

“When I asked my parents about the ‘Green Book,’ they explained it,” said Dr. Beverly Neyland, now a professor of pediatrics at the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV.

What Neyland, now in her 70s and the first female Black pediatrician in Nevada, has experienced and accomplished in an America that hasn’t always been welcoming, is a slice of history that can be celebrated any time we need an example of an American who’s made a difference.

Born in a farmhouse in Gloster, MS, Neyland has achieved much in her life, including chief of pediatrics at both University Medical Center and Sunrise Hospital.

Neyland credits her parents for her success. Her father worked his way to a PhD, and her mother earned a master’s degree while their three children were growing up. Her father became Florida A&M University’s Dean of Arts and Sciences; her mother, an early preschool educator, also taught at Florida A&M and was present with President Lyndon Johnson in the White House Rose Garden for the signing of the legislation that began the Head Start program.

“They believed their children could be whatever they wanted to be,” she said of her parents.

After completing a pediatric residency through UCLA, Neyland, who graduated from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, found a job opening in Las Vegas in 1974.

Dr. Scott Denton, who’s worked with Dr. Neyland at UMC, Sunrise and the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine, isn’t surprised his colleague became president of the pediatric section of the National Medical Association and president of the Nevada Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“She’s the perfect person to head something,” Denton said. “She’s just very calm and collected, gets along with everybody. Her patients and students love her. She’s a real people person who uses humor to defuse difficult situations. There are a lot of egos in the medical field and she’s able to handle that when she’s leading a group, no doubt because she’s intellectually gifted. She always speaks her mind, but in a very diplomatic, articulate manner, delineating her points well. She’s always able to cut through the noise to get to the point.”

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