This week we hosted our second, 2020–2021 panel series based on our blog series, “Listening and Learning: Systemic Racism, Racial and Sexual Disparities in Women’s Health.” We were so excited to have three amazing panelists from diverse backgrounds:
Dr. Megan Huchko; Associate Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Global Health and Director, Center for Global Reproductive Health at Duke University
Dr. Chemtai Mungo; Trainee in AIDS Prevention Studies/Fogarty Global Health Fellow, UCSF OBGYN.
Nikki Mahendru; Duke University Neuroscience Major with minors in Global Health & Economics.
Our panelists each gave their personal experiences and stories relating to the ways that they have seen race and socioeconomic status play an unfortunately major role in the way that women are perceived by physicians and in turn treated or in some situations, mistreated.
Watch the whole conversation here:
At the end of our conversation, our audience left us with a few questions that we were not able to answer during the live session, today we will address a few of these questions.
“I think students have the greatest power in changing conversations regarding stigma in gynecology. My advice is to get out and talk to your friends! The people who feel the most comfortable speaking about their experiences in gynecology should actively seek our modes to relay their experiences to ensure that they can get other students invested.”
— Nikki Mahendru
“Students and trainees have a voice, especially within institutions — medical schools, residency, etc that are committed to teaching the next generation of healthcare providers. Push your teachers and lecturers to go beyond defining race as a risk factor for disease, and name the different forms of structural racism at play, and what can be done/is being done about it. Challenge the leadership in your organizations to have a diverse set of speakers …do you have lecturers of color? Lived experience is critical. When you apply for medical school or residency (you are in a position of influence as schools want to impress and recruit the best), explicitly ask about diversity within faculty and trainees. Ask about equity, and active anti-racism policies the institution is undertaking. For example, are all faculty/providers doing implicitly bias testing/training? The more trainees ask and demand this, the more institutions will move to make these a reality.
When you are a senior resident/Chief resident/faculty, use your voice to point out and teach others and model equitable, compassionate care for junior trainees, this makes a difference! When you become an attending, work in a County or safety net hospital which primarily serves underserved patients, even for a few years. These hospitals can be more challenging to work in — under resourced, may not pay as much as private hospitals. But your presence there as a well-trained, compassionate doctor who is passionate about health equity, and is able to connect to marginalized patients is important. Take the extra 10 minutes with a patient with low health literacy —this will make a tremendous difference for your patients and move the needle. If possible, get some public health/advocacy/research training along the way, and leverage that towards leadership opportunities to change the systems our patients are cared for. All efforts can make a difference.”
— Dr. Chemtai Mungo
“ Given the complicated history of the South Asian community and the model minority myth, that many people of the South Asian community believe in- I feel that advocacy is really important. Advocating for anti-racist conversations within the pipeline to medical school is necessary to train future physicians and help them unlearn previous mindsets that they may have grown up with. With respect to existing practices that may contribute to anti-black practices, I think that my role as a student can be to reach out and question such practices. I did this when I shadowed, just to get providers who may have considered such practices as routine, to revise their existing misconceptions and practices.”
— Nikki Mahendru
We closed our panel conversation by thinking about ways that we each can continue our own education. One suggestion was to spend time reading journals, listening to podcasts and reading books that are focused on addressing racial disparities in healthcare. The books below are just a few of the many ways to continue learning about racial inequality and how we can work together to make tangible change.
Mark your calendars for our next discussion on Wednesday November 18th at 12pm! We will be joined by current a Duke student and two professionals in the LGBT sector who will talk about the disparities that those in the LGBTQ+ community face on a regular basis.