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NGHS hopes to shine a light on the underrepresentation of Black doctors through April lectures and panels
04232020 NGHS 9
Nurses and staff work in a dedicated COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit on the fifth floor of Northeast Georgia Medical Center Gainesville’s South Patient Tower. - photo by Northeast Georgia Health System

The North Georgia Healthcare System hopes a series of lectures and panel discussions this month will spotlight the underrepresentation of Black and Brown health care workers in education and the professional field.

Diversity in Medicine Lectureship will take place April 14-16.

At noon on April 14, NGHS will hold a screening of “Black Men in White Coats,” a documentary that focuses on the systemic barriers preventing Black men from becoming doctors and physicians and the resulting consequences for Black and Brown patients.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, despite being roughly 12% of the population, 5% of all active physicians are Black; and just 2% are Black women.

The film addresses barriers such as unconscious and implicit bias in the medical field, lack of mentorship opportunities and socioeconomic challenges that systemically handicap aspiring Black doctors.

“One of the ways we can address the deficit in Black and Brown health care workers is to encourage more students to look at nursing and medicine as a career choice,” said Vice President of Medical Education for NGHS and Designated Institutional Official for NGMC Dr. John Delzell. “A great way to achieve this is to identify mentors for interested high school and college students.”

On April 15, also a noontime event, Delzell will moderate a panel discussion about the film and will feature four doctors of color — Drs. Erine Raybon-Rojas, Omari Hodge, Antoine Leflore and Maurice Asouzu — sharing their experiences in the medical field.

“It is vitally important to providing the best care to our growing and diverse community. We know that minorities are underrepresented in the physician workforce,” said Delzell. “So our goal is to have a clinical training environment that values diversity and equity.”

Raybon-Rojas is currently leading NGHS’ Medical Staff Diversity Task Force and NGHS continues to shed focus on a need to address systemic issues in the medical field and the need for equity-based hiring practices through its Medicine Lecture Series.

The final event, taking place at 1 p.m. April 16, is a focus on teaching antiracist practices in medical education and beyond, with guest lecturer Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University.

Kendi authored the 2019 book “How To Be Antiracist,” which tackles themes such as internalized racism and how racism permeates various American sectors, including health care.

“To be antiracist is to think nothing is behaviorally wrong or right — inferior or superior — with any of the racial groups,” an excerpt from his book reads. “Whenever the antiracist sees individuals behaving positively or negatively, the antiracist sees exactly that: individuals behaving positively or negatively, not representatives of whole races.” 

Delzell said these conversations are necessary to ensure an equitable health care profession.

“Sometimes talking about race, inequity and disparity is an uncomfortable conversation, but it’s an important and valuable one to have,” said Delzell. “It will give us all an opportunity to listen to the opinions of others in our community. I hope people from all walks of life take advantage of these events.”

All the events will be held virtually, via Zoom. For more information go to www.surveymonkey.com/r/9TKNFDS or email library@nghs.com.

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