This series of blog posts were written by attendees of the JASME Training in Teaching Programme . This is a flexible programme approved for up to 35 CPD hours and is free for individual ASME/JASME members and WP students. It runs on a rolling basis through the year. Please email jasme@asme.org.uk if you are interested in joining.

Catalina, her skin adorned with rich melanin , held a tattered print of ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Every microaggression, racist slur, dismissive glance from her white classmates echoed the novel’s painful narratives. Catalina had anticipated societal prejudice, but the disappointment came from her fellow medical students who sworn by oath to mend the divide and heal. Mr. Calixto stumbled out of the physicians office, his worn hands grasping a crumpled tissue unable to hide the disappointment in his eyes. The physician’s dismissal of his persistent chest discomfort as ‘Typical Hispanic Exaggeration’ inflicted excruciating pain than the discomfort in his chest. The experiences of Catalina and Calixto mirrors a myriad of invisible struggles exposing a silent crisis within the perceived haven of healing.

Unhealed wounds of past bleeds into the present

The healthcare system continues to bear the persistent stain of racism echoing a historical legacy of prejudice and bias. From the Tuskegee’s syphilis study to the exploitation of Henrietta Lack’s cells, medicine is scarred by episodes of racial discrimination. The ripples of this deep-seated issue is also felt in the realm of medical education, perpetuating health disparities.

Cauterizing and suturing the wounds

To rectify historical injustices and rewrite the script of racism in medicine, medical schools must integrate anti-racist training in medical education. Anti-racist education in medical schools transcends mere passive training. It involves getting a comprehensive grasp of race and racism and how it affects healthcare access, delivery and outcomes. This implies incorporating extensive modules on social determinants of health, societal prejudice, implicit bias and the historical context of racism in healthcare as core competency in medical education. Medical curriculum should be revamped to ensure that modules related to race, racism and health disparities are dealt with adequately.

Medical teachers must themselves be oriented to anti-racist principles. This training should guide the educators to build an inclusive learning environment and deconstruct their own biases. Medical schools should strive to recruit faculty from underrepresented groups. Increasing diversity among faculties will facilitate the disruption of systemic barriers within medical profession. Overhaul admission policies to ensure a diverse student body fostering cross-cultural understanding. Medical schools should build transparent and approachable system for reporting an instance of bias. Further, establishment of forums for cultivating a culture of open dialogues about race and racism is essential for acquiring diverse perspectives and in-depth knowledge of the impact of racism.

Interdisciplinary training facilitating collaboration with departments such as anthropology, sociology, bioethics, social medicine, psychology, law offers holistic strategies to dismantle systemic racism. Collaboration with communities of colour to discern their unique healthcare requirements and challenges can offer profound insights. Hence medical students should be motivated to participate in underrepresented community health initiatives as part of their medical training. They should be encouraged to take up research projects focused on health disparities caused by racism to delve deeper into the subject and understand the root cause of this problem. Medical teachers should include diverse case scenarios and employ simulation that illuminate racial issues in the healthcare  system in their teaching. Students from marginalized communities should be paired with experienced professionals who can offer support and guidance via mentorship programs. An anti-racism resource hub, encompassing books, articles, e-learning modules, online courses, documentaries, educational videos, podcasts and films should be developed and readily accessible to all medical students and educators. Anti-racist education demands consistent reflection and reevaluation. Regular assessment and adaptation of the modules guarantees that these approaches are heading in the right direction and making significant progress.

Remember that societal shifts emerges from the grass root level and medical students are in a unique position to drive the progress of anti-racism in medicine. Students should actively get involved in anti-racist programs and advocate for anti-racist training in medical education. By convening Student Anti-Racist Task Forces and taking part in community initiatives medical students can serve as beacons of hope for an equitable healthcare system.

The pathway to healing

The moment to action is here and it begins with you – medical educators and students. Esteemed medical faculties, the onus is on you to curate a curriculum that embraces anti-racist principles, prioritizes equity, diversity, inclusivity and create a conducive environment for students and thereby patients. Medical students, the healers in training, our active engagement, commitment and advocacy are vital to uproot ingrained racial discrimination in medicine. Together we can dismantle the racial discrimination that fuels systemic barriers in healthcare. Are you ready to heal the bleeding wounds of racial discrimination in healthcare?

Sreenidhi Prakash

 

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