Infectious Disease

“Timing could not be higher” to advertise variety in healthcare

January 15, 2021

3 min read

Source / information

Source:

Watkins AC. How can the transplant community address diversity issues? Presented at: ASTS Winter Symposium. 14.-16. January 2021 (virtual meeting).

Disclosure:
Watkins does not report any relevant financial information.

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A speaker at the American Society of Transplant Surgeons Winter Symposium outlined the challenges and strategies for improvement, as the diversity of health professionals is critical to providing the highest quality of care.

“Increasing diversity alone does not increase effectiveness.” antHonly C. Watkins, MD, said a transplant surgeon at NYU Langone Medical Center during a virtual presentation. “What matters is how an organization uses diversity and whether it is prepared to reshape its power structure. Fortunately, the timing couldn’t be better to make further progress, with social justice being a major theme in 2020, leading to a general heightened awareness of these issues. “

Animated hands of different races connected

Source: Adobe Stock

As evidence of how diversity plays a role in better care, Watkins cited data suggesting that doctor-patient racial concordance can build trust, leading to improvements in a wide variety of general health disparities. According to Watkins, these include access to care, patient outcomes, higher patient satisfaction scores, and improved patient compliance. The improved doctor-patient relationship can also help increase participation in clinical research.

“After all, diversity is growing in our society. Our workforce should reflect this, ”said Watkins. “Otherwise, a homogeneous workforce may lack the capabilities of medicine because it is within the parameters of a single lens and a certain set of values.”

Despite references to the benefits of diversity, Watkins said that health workers in the United States suffer from a lack of representation commensurate with the general population.

As of 2018, 64% of doctors were male and 56% were white. Only 6% of doctors identified as Hispanic (even though 19% of the population were Hispanic descent) and only 5% of doctors identified as black (even though 13% of the population was black).

“On the upside, the number of medical school enrollments has steadily increased since the 1980s, outnumbering men in 2016-2017,” Watkins said. “Between 1970 and 2014, Asians also made significant progress. For other groups, however, this pipeline has not looked as promising. “

Here, he referred to data showing that the percentage of black and Hispanic medical school enrollment percentages were “relatively flat” and added that it was “worrying” that more black men were enrolled in medical school in 1978 than in 2014 .

“As mentioned at last year’s session, a bachelor’s degree is required to make a medical student with reading proficiency by the age of 8 [years] to go to a doctor at the age of 28 [years]and it takes resources to achieve all of that, ”said Watkins. “This statement is based on data linking literacy to future pathways, which underscores how early in a child’s development various socio-economic and systemic problems come into play. While this is beyond our scope, the relevance of these factors cannot be overstated. ”

While health professionals may not be able to make these major societal changes on their own, Watkins suggested a variety of “tools” that can be used to achieve diversity goals. These include the following:

  • Establishing diversity as a key priority of the organization or program;
  • Identification of groups or individuals to define specific strategies;
  • Prejudice Reduction Training;
  • Development of recruiting strategies for filling positions with different people;
  • targeted leadership development;
  • Programs with sponsorship of executives who work for protégés; and
  • Holding people accountable for improving diversity within the organization.

“Arguably the most critical step is to provide metrics or data targets that can be achieved in defined time frames,” said Watkins.

According to Watkins, questions to consider include: What is your organization’s diversity program like in 2021? Where is there room for improvement? Are there differences in leadership? What are some realistic goals and how long will it take to achieve them?

“Assessing and re-evaluating these goals and timelines will help keep these efforts on track,” concluded Watkins. “The hope is that by creating a clear roadmap on how to achieve our intended goal, we can optimize our chances of success.”

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Race and medicine

Race and medicine

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