These are unprecedented times, and this is a singular moment in history.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken many lives tragically and needlessly, especially in communities of color, and has widened the existing fractures within our communities, institutions and organizations riven by racism and inequality. The murder of George Floyd and subsequent protests in communities across the country have highlighted the desire of people everywhere to create a just and equitable society. Systemic racism is a public health crisis, and these extraordinary times have compelled us to use our privilege as health care professionals to turn words into action.
At the UPMC St. Margaret Family Medicine Residency Program, we continue to respond to the needs of our community. Through our work in the Family Health Centers, we are addressing the upstream structural racism and social determinants of health that drive disparities, innovating in both clinical and educational spaces to provide medical services to our patients and families including:
- Integrated behavioral health
- Early childhood literacy programs
- School health programs
- Immunization outreach programs
- LGBTQ cultural competency training
- Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
- Onsite hepatitis C treatment
- Virtual telemedicine outreach program to vulnerable patients and families
As a residency program, we are working on multiple fronts to become Anti-Racist in our mindset, words and actions and effective change leaders in our communities through self-reflection, education, advocacy and action.
Our residents have created a committee for Social Justice and Advocacy in which they:
- Engage faculty to create a longitudinal Anti-racism educational curriculum
- Incorporating assessments of disparities due to institutionalized racism during daily lectures and rounds
- Build a dedicated didactic series
- Offer community engagement opportunities
- Foster active mentorship and faculty allyship
- Practice advocacy work
We value diversity, and our recruitment team is dedicated to holistic review of all residency applicants, looking at meaningful indicators of performance, determination and resilience.
And most importantly, we encourage and facilitate challenging conversations about race and equity, leaning into the discomfort that allows us to grow and learn together.
We are committed to “bending the moral arc of the universe toward justice” as health care providers, and we know that our responsibility to our communities is great. We are committed to moving our institutions of health care toward inclusion, diversity, safety, and equity. And we are ready to meet these challenges as team members, leaders and allies.