Now that we know the harmful myths, importance & benefits of inclusion, as well as steps towards inclusion of BIPOC in cardiology. I hope we are aware too that this is not a zero sum game and we all can benefit by practicing together in this field.
So, what is the answer? Well, from someone who has integrated many spaces growing up, I know. You find connection, you learn from one another, and you grow.
The same principles can apply for all. Here are some final thoughts about how we can achieve cardiology workplace equity.
We all have one thing in common. We’re human. Finding commonality with trainees can help bridge any gaps and change biases. Socializing in the beginning to get to know people can be one way to start. This fosters good relationships and we all start on equal ground and build trust. It can be helpful also to check-in. These conversations can be open and honest in a safe space to share experiences (without judgement and non punitive).
Benefit of the Doubt
This is an important principle. With bias and hierarchy this can manifest into lack of benefit of the doubt. Many trainees who graduate medical school are smart. After a certain IQ, there is a marginal difference (discussed in Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell). If a mistake is made, assume the person is smart and discuss better strategies moving forward. It helps to give each other grace. Being clear about your own biases may address this issue. Negative actions stemming from bias and hierarchy can play out during frustration or stress. This can make an uncomfortable environment for the trainees. Consider addressing issues in your own life and this may be a remedy to this issue. We all have bias and personal issues, building awareness is a starting point.
Once a trainee makes it through medical school and residency, they are smart and have endurance. Those who have drive and passion can likely be molded into successful researchers, teachers, and bedside clinicians. One way to help build community and help it grow in training is sponsorship. This can include recommendations for research projects or offering to bring them along to a talk or presentations (hopefully will be in-person soon). It can be fun to be a part of someone’s journey.
For BIPOC medical students and trainees
The above principles apply to us too. In any situation, it helps to look at the man/woman in the mirror and take accountability. We can recognize our own bias and ego. We also can work strategically towards excellence. Remember that at the end of the day; game recognize game. Further, we can determine how we may be holding ourselves back with imposter syndrome. You belong on that wall too! Some of us carry generational weight and feel the need to represent an entire community. You don’t have to hold that weight and can let go. Consistently remember to keep your eye on the prize and rise above the mellow drama. Just hold on. This too shall pass. There is a reckoning in this country; and this is the time to step out into the light. You are worthy.
This essay does not include every principle. Recommendations for how to connect can also be program specific. Many may grumble about these efforts and worry there will be a reversal of inequity. It’s important we swing the pendulum back to the center first. This takes intentionality. We all will benefit from this work to make a more peaceful environment. This can translate to improved patient outcomes and address health disparities, if we start from within.
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I consider myself a Mid-New Englander in the South. My name is Mary Branch MD, MS and I am a NIH-T32 research and clinical cardiology fellow. I grew up in the Midwest and completed most of my education in New England. My current interest is in cardio-oncology; a role that matches my versatility and ability to live outside the box. @DocBanks84