Dr. Barnes is a general pediatrician at Brookland Community Pediatrics in West Columbia. In January 2023, she was chosen as one of “Lexington’s Top 20 Professionals Under 40”. “I am honored to be recognized for the work I do in my community and my profession,” says Dr. Barnes.
For the past six years, Dr. Barnes has worked as a Pediatrician for Brookland Community Pediatrics, a part of Cooperative Health, the largest Federally Qualified Health Center in South Carolina. At Brookland Community Pediatrics, she diagnoses and treats children and young adults who often attended the same schools she attended growing up in the Midlands of South Carolina. Dr. Barnes is a graduate of W.J. Keenan High School in Columbia, Spelman College in Atlanta, and the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. “Education was always a priority in my family,” noted Barnes. “When many of my friends worked in college, my parents said, ‘no, you focus on your education; school is your job.’”
As an undergraduate, Aprel studied health disparities in Washington, DC, meeting with national healthcare leaders to discuss solutions to improve the health of impoverished communities and performing community service projects in those disadvantaged communities. From there, her interest in health disparities was sparked, and it never waned. “At that point, I already knew I wanted to work with health disparities, so it seemed like family medicine would be the way to go from there,” said Barnes.
Once accepted to Loyola’s Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood, Illinois, she was selected as one of eight first-year medical students to participate in a special patient-centered medicine small group. This small group focused on helping Maywood community residents navigate the healthcare system.
Barnes completed her pediatric residency in Greenville, North Carolina. Realizing that pediatrics was her passion, she accepted a job offer that would allow her to return to the Midlands and serve her community. Then, in 2021, she was asked to lead her division as the Pediatric Division Director. “I see being a division director as a welcome challenge. Medicine is changing now, and the doctor is not always in control. And, although we are the main people who interface with the public, a lot is going on behind us that we have no control over. So, as we are navigating that and finding different ways for clinicians to have more input, we are also chartering new territory,” explains Barnes.
At her office, Aprel Barnes is one of two black pediatricians. There are only five throughout the organization, and four of these are women. Black females comprise only 2.8% of all physicians in the United States.
When asked how she works and stays involved in the community, Dr. Barnes says making time is essential. “I involve myself in other things that don’t concern medicine,” she says. Dr. Barnes is part of an online film group, a member of the Richland County Library’s Book Club, and a member of the Columbia Museum of Art Friends of African American Art & Culture Board. “It sharpens my skills outside of medicine and helps me keep my eye on the big picture,” explains Barnes. “I think it’s essential for people to have balance, no matter their profession,” she adds.