How Can We Create an Anti-Racist Culture in Cardiology?

While the strategic recruitment of underrepresented minorities to training programs and practices has been a priority to help increase racial diversity in the cardiovascular profession, addressing racism that underrepresented minority trainees and practitioners face in the workplace has not, according to a paper published March 1 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. This racism comes in the form of microaggressions and biases from patients, colleagues and the system they work within.

Nina Williams, MD, et al., sought to present a collaborative opinion from cardiovascular educators, practitioners and underrepresented minority trainees on the building blocks that can be used to create an anti-racist culture in departments, institutions, practices and professions.

The authors include recommendations on steps that can be taken in training and teaching infrastructure that would contribute to creating an anti-racist culture in the cardiovascular profession. These recommendations include incorporating teaching in the formal didactic curriculum on systemic racism in cardiovascular medicine, health disparities and social determinants of health; requiring implicit bias training; and implementing a mechanism to report microaggressions.

The paper also includes recommendations for steps that can be taken in recruitment, career cultivation and promotion, the day-to-day, and on a personal level, all of which would contribute to developing an anti-racist culture.

"In the absence of high-quality evidence with regards to creating anti-racist work environments, we suggest these practices as 'low-hanging fruit' – most of these recommendations require little financial or time investment, but can serve as foundational building blocks to creating anti-racist culture," write Williams, et al. "Implementation of these principles need not be linear and should not happen just once; rather, this should be a multi-pronged, ongoing process with purposeful evaluation and adjustment. With deliberate, specific, timely actions, leaders can cultivate anti-racist culture in [cardiovascular] training programs, divisions, departments, institutions, and workplaces."

"This is a great paper reflecting thoughtful leadership on how to make the cardiovascular community and profession a safe, equitable and inclusive place for everyone," said Mary Norine Walsh, MD, MACC, past president of the ACC and member of ACC's Diversity and Inclusion Committee. "Changing culture starts from within and it's inspiring to see individuals from within the cardiovascular community mobilizing together to drive change."

Clinical Topics: Cardiovascular Care Team

Keywords: Workplace, Racism, Leadership, Social Determinants of Health, Curriculum, Minority Groups, Writing, Attitude, Cardiology, Medicine

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