1st Black female NYPD police surgeon discusses new role

Dr. Lynn O’Connor discusses assuming the role of police surgeon for the New York Police Department, and being the first Black woman to do so.
3:49 | 09/25/23

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Transcript for 1st Black female NYPD police surgeon discusses new role
- Our next guest is about to make history. Dr. Lynne O'Connor will be sworn in today as the first Black female NYPD police surgeon. - And Dr. O'Connor is joining us here with a GMA3 exclusive interview to reveal her big plans before taking on this prestigious position. Welcome, Dr. O'Connor. - Thank you. - I'm so excited for you. - Thank you. I'm glad to be here. - Well, first of all, congratulations, right? Can we all get a big round of applause? [APPLAUSE] This is amazing. - Thank you. When you look at this number though, this really struck me, because you are the first Black female physician to be appointed in this role in the department's 178-year history. - I know, I know. That's a long time. - That's a long time. What does today mean for you? And what kind of impact do you hope to be making? - This is incredibly meaning for me. It's very meaningful. When you look at the number of available physicians in the United States, only 5.7% are Black. - Wow. - So studies have shown, when a patient is treated with a physician that is of the same race or ethnicity, they have markedly improved outcomes. They're diagnosed quicker. They're seen quicker. Their overall health is improved. And that leads to saving lives. That leads to longevity, which is what I want to do when we get into the NYPD. It's very important. - So let's talk about your specialty, because you're a board certified colorectal surgeon. You also have a master's in public health. So how do you plan to use your professional background in your new role? LYNNE O'CONNOR: Well, you know, I see a lot of physicians-- I see a lot of police officers in what I do on a daily basis. And one of the common themes that I've seen is that they spend so much time taking care of others, that they have very little time to take care of themselves, as with any public servant. So as a colorectal surgeon, community outreach, education is important. And with my background and this position, I am uniquely positioned to develop Colorectal Cancer Awareness programs, screening programs, and various other initiatives that are going to be key in keeping our officers safe and keeping them healthy and keeping them fit for service. - Before we let you go, I have to ask you, because you are a trailblazer. What message would you give to those little girls out there who look at what you are doing, what you have done, and they're like, I want to be like her one day? LYNNE O'CONNOR: If you would have told me at 10 years of age that I'd be sitting here speaking with you and soon to be sworn in as the first Black female police surgeon for the NYPD, I wouldn't believe it. But I want them to know that they're enough. That they matter. That their goals matter. That you can't be what you can't see. So perseverance pays off. And this is a monumental accomplishment, and that they can do it. That's what I want them to know, that they can do it. - Could you tell us a little bit about this role? Because I think a lot of people might be surprised to hear that the NYPD has this role. What is this role all about? - It's really important that the officers, who are out there are fit and are healthy. So what I would be doing, is making sure that these officers are fit for duty. I would be preparing health screenings, health initiatives. We would be doing health fairs. We would be also doing-- I'd be serving in a consulting fashion, especially being a board certified colorectal surgeon, general surgeon, and following their care if they are hospitalized, if they're injured. So it's really overall basically a complete health care that they would get from a police surgeon. - They're so lucky to have you in their corner. - Thank you. - And we're going to be cheering you on. - Thank you so much. - Thanks to you, Dr. O'Connor, thank you so much for being, and congratulations to you. - Thank you. - Wishing you the very best in your new role.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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