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Conquering Systemic Racism in Medicine

The Rheumatologist reports on the impact of systemic racism in medicine and actions recommended by HSS social worker Jillian Rose, PhD, MPH, LCSW, and others, for improvement to reduce the related health disparities.

“I would advise clinicians—if they want to be truly invested in this journey of eliminating racism, eliminating disparities in health and moving toward more equitable care for all patients—to first spend the time to identify your own biases, spend the time to look at some of your own unconscious thinking that may color your care… and then dare to engage your patients in a conversation about what’s important to them,” said Dr. Rose.

Biases can manifest in the physical environment, so it’s important to actively try to make all patients feel welcome and respected. Subtle things, such as the images used on a website or in a physical space, can signal to people who “belongs,” she added. Another important element to successful outcomes is including patients in shared decision making. “Part of the problem-solving process is engaging the individuals in front of you in their own care, and valuing them as a person who is autonomous to make a decision along with [the rheumatologist’s] guidance, help and support,” explained Dr. Rose. “That’s really half the battle of addressing racism in healthcare.”

Physicians and healthcare providers are leaders in their community and have the power to effect change toward diversity, inclusion and equity. Dr. Rose suggested for clinicians to get involved by reviewing their community health needs assessment, serving on a council to advocate for community needs or mentoring someone who aspires to be a clinician. “We can write social prescriptions for people, whether it’s to attend support groups, go to a food pantry, seek housing advocacy or go swimming at a local YMCA. Social prescriptions not only tell someone that you are interested in their well-being, but [that] you’re creative about the resources and opportunities you see them having access to,” she cited.

Read the full article at the-rheumatologist.org.