Toni Martin grew up in Chicago and Washington, D.C. She received her AB in Geological Sciences cum laude from Harvard University and her MD from the University of California at San Francisco. Dr. Martin also did her residency at the UCSF Hospitals. She is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and has practiced in a variety of settings: as a primary care doctor in private practice and with the Permanente Medical Group in Oakland, as a hospitalist at Summit Hospital in Oakland, and as an urgent care doctor at the Berkeley Primary Care Clinic, as a regional medical consultant in the disability program at Social Security.
She wrote her first book How to Survive Medical School (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1983) as an effort to demystify medical training. Married to a college and medical school classmate who became a gastroenterologist, Dr. Martin initially pursued a career in clinical medicine. She was busy with medical practice and her three children, who were born in the 1980s. Writing was a way to reflect on the experience of being a doctor, specifically a black woman doctor in practice in the West. In the nineties, she was a regular contributor to the On Health column of the East Bay Express. Her medical essays also appeared in Hippocrates Magazine and Medical Economics.
In 2003, she attended the Napa Valley Writers Conference in fiction and was awarded a residency at Hedgebrook, a retreat for women writers. The same year, memoir essays appeared in the The Threepenny Review, ZYZZYVA and The East Bay Monthly. Since then she has published memoir and fiction, as well as writing about medicine. In 2008, she published her second book , When the Personal was Political: Five Women Doctors Look Back (iUniverse) , a social history of the wave of women who entered medical school after Title IX passed in 1972. This book was partially written during a residency at the Mesa Refuge. Dr. Martin has also attended the Squaw Valley Community of Writers.
Since her second book, Toni Martin has focused more on fiction. In 2013, she was a finalist for the Microfiction award, received an honorable mention from Glimmer Train and won the AROHO Orlando Fall Fiction Prize. See publications for a complete list of published work.