The American Medical Association has released a new plan to end institutionalized racism within the organization and within the U.S. medical field in general. The strategy, outlined in an 86-page document, points out health inequities that have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic as well as police violence and other racial issues that have created inequities, in its mandate to improve medical care for marginalized people.
’’We’re working very hard at AMA to increase not just diversity in the healthcare workforce but in understanding of health inequities,” said Dr. Gerald Harmon, the incoming president of the organization, according to the Associated Press.
The majority of the AMA’s 270,000 member doctors are white and its membership accounts for about a quarter of all U.S. physicians, making it the largest group of its kind in the nation. But the new plan calls for several things including: understanding and implementing racial and social justice measures in AMA organizational culture from enterprise to practices; connect with and build alliances with physicians in marginalized spaces; building equitable structures in existing AMA operations; ensuring physicians have knowledge of inequities in health care; finding a way to promote healing of past damages.
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Dr. David Ansell, a senior vice president for community health equity at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center called the plan a “landmark document” and said it lays out a guide for the field.
’’It really should be taught widely across medicine because it’s language that has not been central to the organization or the practice of medicine in the United States and needs to be,” Ansell told the AP.
But critics of the AMA may still be looking at negative publicity the organization got when a February tweet from the Journal of the American Medical Association questioned the existence of structural racism or racist doctors, according to the AP. An AMA deputy editor resigned over the controversy and the group suspended the journal’s chief editor. The work of an oversight committee is continuing.
’’People are dying on a daily basis from the same structural racism that they are now acknowledging,” one of the critics, New York Dr. Raymond Givens, told the AP. ‘’Given that, there’s a need to act as quickly as is responsible.’’