The US population continues to become more diverse but we still have racial and ethnic disparities in health care. How do you care for patients from different racial and ethnic backgrounds in the ED? Do these differences matter in healthcare or do we treat all patients with the same protocol? What biases do you bring with you that you might not be aware of? Are there ways to address these issues and bring greater understanding for you and your patients?
In October 2015, the Advocacy Track hosted a Diversity and Inclusion Workshop led by Amanda Bonilla, Assistant Director for Social Justice Education at IUPUI. We sought to discuss what the physician social responsibility is in regards to using inclusive language, understanding privilege, cultural and ethnic differences, and micro-aggressions.
We had good turnout with residents, faculty, and medical students in attendance.
Some of the critical topics covered included:
- Bias we may have against people with different backgrounds
- Understanding micro-aggressions
- Recognizing the spectrum of diversity
- Inclusive language
Why is this discussion so important to Emergency Medicine?
We want to enhance the professional development of all EM faculty and residents with respect to culturally competent medical care. The biggest reason to have this discussion in the emergency department is that we see patients from all walks of life and often provide their first impression of the hospital or hospital system. We broke into small groups and explored common stereotypes for racial, gender, religious and ethnic groups. This helped us to identify positive and negative biases we are aware of and how they affect our perspectives. Once we broke this down, we were able to further identify micro-aggressions and their effect on our practices.
As providers we want to give the best care we can, and that includes treating people fairly. Also, the better we understand our patients’ ethnic, cultural and religious identities the better care we can advise.
A sincere thank you to everyone who participated in this important conversation and our guest leader Amanda Bonilla!
Submitted by Tendi Warren, MD, PGY3 IUEM