Black Lives Matter: Moving from passion to action in academic medical institutions

J Natl Med Assoc. 2022 Apr;114(2):193-198. doi: 10.1016/j.jnma.2021.12.009. Epub 2022 Jan 22.

Abstract

The year 2020 opened the eyes of many to the structures of racism that persist in our country. As the visceral urgency of those galvanizing moments fade, organizations must move beyond releasing supportive statements and determining how they can live up to their stated values. To truly support Black lives, academic medical centers (AMCs) must commit to critically examine and improve the manner in which daily practices, culture, and context uplift Black students, health care professionals, and patients to achieve health equity. One step is to create a culture that is willing to listen and improve when people express discomfort or report mistreatment in order to retain people who are underrepresented in medicine (URiM) in a welcoming environment. Academic centers should address microaggressions to create a safe work and learning atmosphere. Then, ensure that faculty, trainees, and staff represent the demographics of the communities in which institutions are situated. Recruiting and retaining an inclusive health care workforce must be systematic and intentional to achieve representation. Studies have shown that racial and ethnic concordance between providers and patients improves patient satisfaction and health outcomes. Further, business studies have shown that racially diverse leadership teams outperform teams that are more homogenous. Diversity benefits colleagues, learners, and patients by considering different perspectives and improving problem solving. Additionally, AMCss should teach about structural racism as a social determinant of health to raise awareness of a common cause of health disparities and understand why patients of color may distrust the medical system. Furthermore, academic centers should work with local leaders to assess needs and provide community benefits and advocate for policies that meet those needs. While there are some challenges in starting these conversations in our institutions, changing the status quo is necessary to achieve health equity for all.

Keywords: Health equity; Health professions; Medical education; Medical schools.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Black People
  • Faculty
  • Humans
  • Leadership
  • Racism* / prevention & control