• Dolores Fawcett Till

Race and healthcare: Resources for Medics

During Black History month this term, we reflected upon this issue within a healthcare setting. We have an opportunity to celebrate Black contributions to medicine, from Onesimus, an enslaved African-born man who used an early inoculation technique from African folk medicine to prevent a smallpox outbreak in 18th century Boston, to Dr Charles Drew, whose research into blood transfusion and blood banking methods saved thousands of lives.

As well as honouring pioneering Black Doctors and scientists, it is also important to acknowledge racial inequalities in healthcare that stem from racist beliefs and cruel practices in race science. Black people have been exploited under the guise of medical research throughout history, with live experiments performed on enslaved women and unlawful and unethical practises carried out on Black patients without consent, such as the case of Henrietta Lacks.

Education is a crucial part of active anti-racism and allyship, but the privilege that white people hold, of learning about racism and its effects rather than experiencing them directly, cannot be understated.

Anti-racism resources and information specific to healthcare are listed below:

  1. Interrupting Microaggressions in Health Care Settings: A Guide for Teaching Medical Students https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.10969, https://www.mededportal.org/doi/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.10969

  2. “I Didn't Know What to Say”: Responding to Racism, Discrimination, and Microaggressions With the OWTFD Approach (https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.10971, https://www.mededportal.org/doi/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.10971 )

  3. Building a Tool Kit for Medical and Dental Students: Addressing Microaggressions and Discrimination on the Wards (https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.10893, https://www.mededportal.org/doi/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.10893https://www.mededportal.org/doi/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.10893 )

  4. Tools for Discussing Identity and Privilege Among Medical Students, Trainees, and Faculty (https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.10864, https://www.mededportal.org/doi/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.10864 )

Highlights from the BMJ’s special issue on racism in medicine (https://www.bmj.com/racism-in-medicine ):

  1. It’s time to act on racism in the NHS (https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m568)

  2. Are medical schools turning a blind eye to racism? (https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m420)

  3. Racism in medicine: why equality matters to everyone (https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m530)

Books discussing race and medicine:

  1. Medical Apartheid, Harriet A Washington

  2. A black man in a white coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race in Medicine, Damon Tweedy

  3. Black and Blue: The Origins and Consequences of Medical Racism, John Hoberman

  4. Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care, Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Understanding and Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care

  5. Reproductive Injustice: Racism, Pregnancy, and Premature Birth, Dána-Ain Davis