Solidarity Statement on Recent Events
Thursday, June 25, 2020
Posted by: Health Policy
Greetings SNMA Family,
We, the members of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA), in support with the Latino Medical Students Association (LMSA), American Medical Student Association (AMSA), Association of Native American Medical Students (ANAMS), Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association (APAMSA), Medical Student Pride Alliance (MSPA) and Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA), as current and future medical students are saddened and appalled by recent events against the Black/African American community. We mourn the wrongful deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and thousands more, and grieve with their families as they navigate these tragic circumstances. We stand with the Black/African American community in solidarity against the acts of police brutality that have been occurring across the nation. These incidents reflect a pattern of racism which has been ongoing since the inception of the United States.
In recent times, we have seen migrant children of color separated from their families and housed in cages along the US-Mexico Border, body bags instead of PPE sent to Native American clinics, and racist acts against Asian Americans as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is an epidemic. These acts, unmet by justice, continue to plague communities of color. Therefore, we denounce all incidents of violence and racism against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).
As the next generation of physicians aimed at addressing the health and medical issues of underrepresented communities, we recognize that health is multifaceted and includes socioeconomic and psychosocial wellness. The SNMA recognizes that racism is a public health issue, and therefore, affects all communities, regardless of race, ethnicity, documentation status, or socioeconomic background. Systematic racism, defined as a system of advantage based on race, drives economic instability, health inequity, mass incarceration, and food insecurity, which are just some of the significant contributors to disparate health outcomes seen in those with hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and now COVID-19. Racism affects not only communities of color but the entire healthcare system. Health inequities strain the resources of our medical system and affect how medicine is both regarded and carried out in every community. Now more than ever, it is crucial that we counteract the effects of racism on our most vulnerable communities to end all health disparities.
During this time, it is also important to address the violent actions against communities of color including Black/African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Hispanics/Latinx by law enforcement and the majority. The SNMA has used its collective voice to release a statement on police brutality; a tactic of the justice system that utilizes fear to suppress and control the masses of Black and Brown bodies. Violence against BIPOC communities unmet with justice not only destroys lives but perpetuates grief, stress, and mental trauma. As future physicians who take an oath to serve these communities, we acknowledge that our silence is not acceptable and stand alongside these communities in denouncing violence against minorities.
In an effort to highlight the importance of structural humility and social consciousness, we realize that systematic racism directly impacts our mission. As an organization, we have addressed cultural and structural competency. We are committed to increasing the number of culturally competent physicians. In the last year, 1,626 Black/African American students matriculated into medical school. As per the AAMC (AAMC, 2019), out of a total of 21,863, only 7.4% of medical school matriculants were Black/African American. As per the US Census Bureau (Bureau, 2019) 13.4% of the United States population is considered Black/African American but this also does not reflect the numbers unrecorded. In reflection of these numbers, we must work harder to ensure our communities are represented appropriately in medicine to provide care to members of our community.
In an effort to address racism, violence, and health inequity, we call institutions which hold chapters of our organization to action. We acknowledge and applaud institutions who have already taken a stand against racism; institutions such as the University of Michigan, the University of Washington and the University of Louisville School of Medicine who have made statements of solidarity, created anti-racism reading lists and promote the cessation of bias in their curriculum and on their campuses. Now more than ever, we recommend that your institution echo these efforts by following the steps listed in our Call to Action and utilizing the following Resources to help combat the growth of racism as a public health issue:
CALL TO ACTION
Institutional Statement of Recognition
- Any institution which holds an SNMA chapter is called to release a statement recognizing the current events, its effects on the student body, and denouncing violence against people of color. In addition, institutions should work with the local SNMA chapter to identify opportunities to support students locally.
Review of Training on Behalf of Student Safety
- A review of the training conducted for security personnel at your institution to remove the role of implicit bias and structural racism among your security force.
Review of Medical Education and Bias Practices
- Integrate structural racism as a public health issue into all medical school curriculums from small group to simulation. This curriculum change must transcend one day events and address how racism is interlaced within and beyond medical education.
- Utilize resources such as the “Racial Justice Report Card" by White Coats for Black Lives to evaluate metrics such as institutional curriculum, student and faculty diversity student safety, and racial integration of clinical care sites.
- Offer regular opportunities for conversations on topics such as race and other structural societal issues led by faculty to create a safe space for students to discuss and learn.
- Require implicit bias training for ALL faculty, staff, and clinicians who engage with students as well as provide transparency to students regarding the expectations of administration. The identification of those who complete these courses should also be provided to students to increase the awareness of their completion.
Provision of Trauma-Informed Support
- Provide easy-to-access resources for students in need of support as they cope with the trauma of these recent violent acts. Examples of these resources range from mindfulness applications to therapy coverage for students.
Review of Hospital Practices
- Hospital security should be provided by unarmed and un-uniformed mental health or social work professionals with training in nonviolent de-escalation and restorative justice.
- Hospital security should not be provided by members of the police force or sheriff’s office.
- Hospital policy and training for staff should prioritize the protection of patients’ rights and clarify the legal requirements of healthcare workers’ cooperation with law enforcement, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
- Hospitals should keep publicly available records of all incidents in which law enforcement were called to the hospital, including aggregated de-identified data on the race, gender identity, and immigration status of the patients or families involved in the incident.
Resources for Engaging in Anti-Racism Work and Practicing Solidarity
Resources for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) to Engage in Self-Care
Ways to Support Current Developments in Minneapolis
We, as future physicians of various backgrounds and cultures, recognize the opportunity we have as professional students. It is our desire that we utilize this privilege to change the systems which work to suppress the minoritized communities in which we live, care for, and respect. It is this charge that endows our duty to do all we can to stand together and end violence against BIPOC and racism as a public health issue.
Osose Oboh, MPH
57th SNMA National President
This statement is supported by the following organizations:
Association of Native American Medical Students
American Medical Student Association
Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association
Latino Medical Student Association
Medical Student Pride Alliance
Student Osteopathic Medical Association