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Long before she became a top executive at UnitedHealth Group, back in her native Nigeria, Margaret-Mary Wilson was discouraged from her dreams of becoming a doctor because “girls don’t do that.” But Wilson persisted, attending medical school in Nigeria, then receiving specialty training in the U.K. and U.S.

She eventually entered a field, geriatric medicine, that people in her native country said there was no need for, because so many people died before they reached the age of 40. Hearing the stories of her grandfather, a nursing superintendent who had cared for hospital patients who were considered lucky if they saw a doctor once a month, Wilson thought there had to be a better way to deliver care.


Wilson — a Black, female, immigrant, and openly gay physician — has risen rapidly though medicine and in December, became an executive vice president and chief medical officer of UnitedHealth Group, a health care giant that provides care to 150 million Americans. She spoke with STAT about the challenges she has faced in her professional journey and how she is working to bring improved care to all populations. This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

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