"It Makes Me a Better Person and Doctor": A Qualitative Study of Residents' Perceptions of a Curriculum Addressing Racism

Acad Pediatr. 2022 Mar;22(2):332-341. doi: 10.1016/j.acap.2021.12.012. Epub 2021 Dec 17.


Objective: Explore how pediatric residents perceive the impact of a curriculum addressing racism on their knowledge, motivation, skills and behaviors, and investigate the contextual factors that promote or impede the curriculum's effectiveness.

Methods: Open-ended, semistructured interviews were conducted at 2 academic medical centers between August 2019 and 2020 among pediatric residents who participated in the curriculum. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed by using inductive content analysis.

Results: Pediatric residents (n = 16) were predominantly white (66.7%), female (86.7%) interns (60%) from the Midwest (40%). Six major themes emerged describing the perceived impact of the curriculum on: knowledge - (1) Understanding of race and racism as structural forces in a historical context; motivation - (2) Owning the issue of racism, (3) Having the curriculum makes a statement; skills - (4) Critical self-reflection, (5) Perceived development of skills to mitigate biases; and action-planning - (6) Turning insight into strategies to combat racism and improve patient care. Two additional themes emerged describing contextual factors that promoted or impeded the curriculum such as the content of the curriculum itself, the racial demographics of the participants, the implementation infrastructure and environmental factors such as the culture of the training program.

Conclusions: Medical education addressing racism can facilitate the perceived acquisition of foundational knowledge regarding race and racism; motivation and skill-building to combat racism; and action planning aimed at improving patient care. Contextual factors should be considered when developing and implementing such curricula to not only promote racial equity but avoid unintended harms.

Keywords: education; equity; racism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Physicians*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Racism*