MEET THE EXPERT
The cost of healthcare often dominates the news. From privatization to Medicare for all to the price of insulin, there’s plenty of disagreement and controversy to go around. But when it comes to care itself, one belief seems universal no matter where you fall in the great policy debate: you want a doctor you can trust. “If your patient feels they’re just another number, you won’t establish the trust you need to create a connection,” said Dr. James Doty, clinical professor of Neurosurgery at Stanford University. But do strong doctor/patient connections impact health outcomes?
This doesn’t mean the non-black doctors provided inadequate or inferior care. When rated, the black and non-black doctors actually received equal scores for quality of care. But it does mean the patients felt more comfortable and/or more secure with a physician they could connect with. And in this case, the connection was race.
In healthcare, trust matters. Representation matters. More diversity in healthcare means safer, healthier, and stronger communities across the entire United States. So how can we help?
How We Can Help: Promote CLAS
Developed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), the National Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) standards advance equitable healthcare services regardless of race, religion, gender, class, or nationality. CLAS encourage medical and health facilities to establish respectful and effective environments that take into account the unique needs of individual cultures and backgrounds. Examples may include hiring medical staff who speak preferred languages, offering culturally accepted foods, and that ensuring patients can observe their traditions while seeking care. If you work in a hospital or another patient-focused healthcare facility, here are three key areas you can promote CLAS.
How We Can Help: Support Equal Opportunity
Despite ongoing efforts to encourage and legislate equal opportunity for all, racism, religious discrimination, and cultural barriers still exist in all industries. The medical field is not immune to discrimination, but there are steps that both students and healthcare professionals can take to champion equal opportunity and fight for increased diversity.
How We Can Help: Support Inclusive Schools
When taking a balcony view of the medical landscape, it’s important to remember that schools serve as the primary training ground for students hoping to work as medical professionals. For students from underrepresented populations to succeed in fulfilling their goals, they need the support and championing of their colleges and universities. Supporting inclusive schools that go above and beyond to create diverse classes is one of the most important steps you can take. Some signs of an inclusive school include:
20 Great Diversity Resources
Still looking for more information about increasing diversity in healthcare? Check out the curated list of resources below.
4 Ways to Promote Diversity in the Medical Office. VeryWellHealth offers actionable tips for healthcare professionals and administrators looking to create more welcoming atmospheres for patients of diverse backgrounds.
Achieving Inclusivity: The University of California at San Francisco provides a framework that other universities can follow when restructuring their approach to student admissions.
Addressing Health and Health-Care Disparities: The Public Health Reports academic journal shares information on the role of a diverse workforce and the social determinants of health.
A Diversity and Inclusion Framework for Medical Education: Academic Medicine provides this peer-reviewed tool for medical schools looking tor detailed information on next steps to take in their diversity programs.
American Muslim Health Professionals: This professional member organization advocates for Muslim individuals working in healthcare, provides professional development, offers mental health resources, and maintains a regularly updated job board.
Diversity and Inclusion in the Academic Medicine Workforce: This academic article, featured in MedEdPORTAL, takes a look at the importance of encouraging medical students and residents to consider academic careers.
Diversity in Medicine has Measurable Benefits. Johns Hopkins Medicine takes a look at some of the quantitative data available on bringing more diverse voices and experiences into the health arena.
Diversity in Med School: Why It’s Important and What Minority Applicants Need to Know: StudentDoctor takes a look at this important topic and offers actionable advice for minority learners.
DiversityRX: This nonprofit works to improve quality and access to healthcare services for minority communities and provides many resources along the way.
Interventions to Improve Cultural Competence in Healthcare: This academic journal article provides a systematic review of improvement methods and outcomes.
Measuring Diversity and Inclusion in Academic Medicine: This HHS study takes a look at the results of a Diversity Engagement Survey and what it shows about the state of inclusion in medical school.
National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurse Associations: This professional group brings together Asian American, Pacific Islander, American Indian, Hispanic, Black, and Philippine Nurses working in America and advocates on their behalf.
National Hispanic Medical Association: The NHMA provides resources, annual conferences, access to events, scholarships, advocacy, and job boards for Hispanic medical professionals.
National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health offers this comprehensive guide on CLAS guidelines.
Promoting Inclusion in Academic Medicine: JAMA Network provides an analysis of a patient survey on the importance of healthcare providers who reflect their life experiences.
Resume Tips for Minority Nurses: After completing a degree in nursing, minority graduates can use this guide to create a winning resume that grabs the attention of recruiters.
The Case for Diversity in the Health Care Workforce: This Health Affairs article takes a look at the myriad benefits provided by including individuals from diverse backgrounds in the medical arena.
The Importance of Cultural Competency and Diversity in Medicine: Kaplan provides a comprehensive review of why diversity in medicine remains of central importance and what still needs to be done to achieve more equity.
Tours for Diversity in Medicine. This nonprofit tours various schools and cities across the country to encourage and champion minority students who want to work in medical roles.
World Professional Association for Transgender Health: WPATH provides a standards of care guide for medical professionals seeking information on how to provide appropriate and adequate care to transgender patients.