Among 2018-19 medical school applicants, nearly 47% were White, 21.3% Asian, 8.4% Black and 6.2% Latino, according to the AAMC.
One way to diversify the medical field is to introduce black children to the profession while they are in middle and high school, said Dr Marc Belcastro, chief system physician at Premier Health. The Dayton Scale of Wright State’s Family Medicine Residency Program is a prime example, he said. The program, launched in 2016, supports people aged 9 to 17 who are interested in careers in the health field.
GDAHA recently launched a similar program, Hackenbracht said.
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Not far enough
Introducing young people of color, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to the medical field is a good first step, but it doesn’t go far enough, said Dr Alonzo Patterson, a pediatric specialist who grew up on the West Side of Dayton and who is a beneficiary of these programs.
In 1979, Wright State University’s Boonshoft School of Medicine initiated the Horizons in Medicine program, which aims to introduce the professions of science and health to underprivileged and minority high school students. Patterson was first class, he said. He wanted to go to medical school, but he wasn’t sure if he was going to enter medical school or how he would pay if he did.
Additionally, completing medical school means hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, and not all doctors make enough money to pay off $ 200,000 to $ 300,000 in student loans, Patterson said. So as a safety blanket he majored in engineering as an undergraduate at Wright State to make sure he would earn around $ 50,000 to $ 60,000 a year after college.
These are tough choices faced by minority students who lack the support systems to help fund their medical education, he said.
“There is a need to strengthen the education system,” Patterson said. “But I think we need to pay attention to some of these other intangibles as well.”
Another possible solution to reducing the prejudices implicit in the medical field is to step up efforts to diversify medical schools, said La Fleur Small, associate provost and medical sociologist at Wright State. Studies have shown that if medical classes were more diverse in terms of race and ethnicity, implicit biases could be minimized in a more organic way, she said.
Creating courses that focus solely on reducing implicit bias and making them mandatory in medical schools is another way to tackle the problem, Small said. Classes would present students with implicit biases because some people are not aware of the problem.
Wright State School of Medicine has a pilot anti-racism dialogue training program offered to its OB-GYN residents, and it will soon be extended to the administration of the Boonshoft School of Medicine and eventually to the faculty.
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Fight against prejudices implicit in legislation
In 2019, California approved the Dignity During Pregnancy and Childbirth Act. The legislation includes a provision that requires hospitals and clinics to implement implicit bias programs for all providers who care for pregnant women and their babies.
Last July Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order requiring medical professionals to take training on implicit bias to obtain or renew a medical license in the state. This step was recommended by the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities.
In April, Illinois made implicit bias training a continuing education requirement for all doctors, nurses and certain other health care professionals.
What local hospitals are doing to increase diversity
At the local level, some hospital systems offer anti-bias training to their healthcare professionals. In early 2020, Premiere Health began rolling out a program called Cost of Poverty Experience Training – or COPE. The program is designed to bring participants into the lives of low-income people.
The training taps into participants’ limbic system, which is a part of the brain that processes emotions and memory, Belcastro said.
The Dayton Children’s Hospital has been tackling the problem of implicit bias for some time, but has stepped up its efforts over the past year, said Dr John Duby, vice president of academic affairs and health community and chair of the pediatrics department at Wright State University. Boonshoft School of Medicine.
Dr John Duby, vice president of academic affairs and community health at Dayton Children’s Hospital. Contributed
Last summer, Deborah Feldman, the CEO of the hospital, convened a task force on racism which made several recommendations that were implemented.
This included adding equity to its stated values and health equity to its strategic priorities. He’s also starting to study his hospitalization data for disparities, Duby said. For example, Dayton Children’s found that black children with asthma had a higher admission rate than non-Black children.
“And that gave us the opportunity to be able to start asking ourselves why is this difference there … and to see where the opportunities for improvement might be,” he said. .
The Kettering Health Network has also stepped up efforts to tackle racial prejudice, said Josefer Montes, director of inclusion and vice president. The network has formed a working group that seeks to mainstream diversity, equity and inclusion into Kettering Health’s residency program.
Josefer Montes, director of inclusion and vice president of marketing at Kettering Health Network. Contributed.
The network’s second cohort of lead physicians recently completed their training on creating an inclusive clinical environment, which means 40 physicians have completed the training so far. The training is provided by an external company, the Physician Leadership Institute.
In addition, the Kettering Health Network Center for Nursing Excellence, a brainchild of nurses in the hospital network, is in the early stages of rolling out a training program on the cultural skills of the network’s internationally trained nurses, said Montes.
“Our goal is for Kettering Health Network to be a safe and welcoming place for anyone, regardless of color, race, gender, orientation or religion or otherwise, can receive medical treatment and work,” said he declared.