Increasing the diversity of minority clinicians is a first step in combatting racism in medicine. We must also ensure that curricula are free of stereotypes and bias.
I attended med school from 2015-2021. Since then, I’ve noticed an increase in buzzwords such as “equity,” “inclusion,” and “diversity” as a way to combat racism. Although recognition is an important step, it’s not enough. In 2020, a study showed that physicians from minority groups experienced racism in the healthcare setting. Another study demonstrated that underrepresented minority students bear the disproportionate burden of mistreatment. Increasing the diversity and inclusion of minorities in the healthcare system is a first step, but the effort requires collaboration from all stakeholders.
Despite being a 21st century trained physician, I inherited race-based medicine and race-based clinical calculators. I learned about Fitzpatrick skin type, but not about how iconic Bull’s-eye from Lyme disease manifested in darker skin type. One of the tools to create awareness among the trainees is ethics and health humanities courses; but these are sometime perceived by trainees as a waste of time. Lastly, minority taxing, such as engaging in non-career advancing activities and promotion disparities contributes to the glass ceiling effect when referring to academic medicine professional growth.
Clinicians and institutions can help counter racism and disparities in healthcare by going beyond recognizing “equity,” “inclusion,” and “diversity.” We need action at every level. This includes, but is not limited to:
1. Curriculum development in ethics and health humanities
2. Curriculum review to eliminate stereotypes and biases
3. Reassessment in evaluation tools which would help in prioritization topics in medicine
4. Including diversity and inclusion activities as advancing career items
Every stakeholder needs to actively participate as this cannot be left to minority groups only.
This piece expresses the views solely of the author. It does not necessarily represent the views of any organization, including Johns Hopkins Medicine.