The new Race, Bias, and Advocacy in Medicine (RBAM) Distinction Pathway will be officially launched for the fall semester 2021. Interested residents should apply for the two-year program in the fall of their PGY-2 year.
Created by former head residents Jana Christian, MD, and Rachel Schrier, MD, the new pathway provides residents with a rigorous and comprehensive curriculum, arming them with tools to understand racism and structural/cultural biases experienced by the healthcare system. and think about it. , medical training and medical practice. Residents will work with the greater New Haven community to better understand the differences in access, intensity, and quality of health care and improve care delivery.
Christian recalled the trajectory’s origins as part of her April 22, 2021 medical grand tours. She shared the devastation and outrage she felt after George Floyd’s murder in Minnesota. “And with George Floyd and the horror of that video, it felt like enough was enough. And so, in the summer of 2020, my co-chiefs and I attended protests, spoke openly about race and racism, and brainstormed together about what we could do to contribute to anti-racism and bring these principles into the medical sphere. And what I so desperately wanted was to create a space for our residents to discuss, process and understand the ubiquitous nature of racism and prejudice, and brainstorm ways to combat it as doctors. So I led a working group of dedicated residents who were interested in talking about racism in our own medical system, education and practice. And my co-chiefs and I met with race and medicine experts in our own department and in other departments in our medical center,” she explained. Check out her Medical Grand Tours on the website.
Christian and four other residents approached department president Gary V. Desir, MD; Associate Chair for Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion Inginia Genao, MD, FACP; Traditional Residency Program Director Mark D. Siegel, MD; and others, and received full support, leading to the creation of RBAM.
“Jana and other residents who contact Dr. [Gary] Desir and I with the excellent idea of an anti-racism award trajectory is music to our ears and undoubtedly have our full support,” said Genao. “With the support of Dr. [Vincent] Quagliarello, the resources were made available and restructured to benefit not only RBAM, but all the differentiating pathways in our residency programs. We are delighted to see our future doctors taking the lead in breaking the cycle of racism and other forms of discrimination.”
Aba Black, MD, MHS, assistant professor of general medicine; and Vice Chief of Diversity & Inclusion (General Medicine) will act as co-director of RBAM. She met the residents early in the process and helped set up the courses.
“I have a background in sociology and African American studies, so I tend to think about things in that context, and so we talked about some ideas for moving forward, people to join and how we can move forward.” going with leadership to make sure that’s something that sticks,” Black said. “But this was the chiefs’ initiative and they’ve done a great job talking to many key players in our department of the institution to make sure to make sure this is something that can work.”
“The overarching goal is to engage a select group of residents more deeply on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. I always think of these issues in different ways; there is certainly direct community involvement. One of its goals is to raise awareness of issues affecting the greater New Haven community. And then we think of some of the bigger social injustices out there, whether we think of the criminal justice system, education, health care. There are a number of different ways we can address those issues and then intersect them with race and identity,” Black continues.
Stephen Holt, MD, MD, FACP, co-director, was a founder and core faculty member for the Clinician Educator Distinction Pathway and felt compelled to participate in RBAM.
“I wanted to be part of something new, something that was forward-thinking and something I felt I could contribute in a meaningful way, simply because of the fact that I’d had an award for seven years, and so I know the mechanics of it, said Holt. “And Aba, who I’ve been an admirer of since she came in as an intern about seven years ago, was going to be the faculty leader for this? I was forced to send her and Inginia [Genao] an email saying I wanted to help.”
Christian, Schrier and their co-principal residents outlined how credits would be earned and what didactics would be available to students. Five faculty members of the department have applied so far and the curriculum is outlined for fall 2021. Resident leaders for the trajectory are Ashley Demory, MD; Zina Huxley-Reicher, MD; Raksha Madhavan, MD; and William Santiago, MD.
“This path will provide a highly visible and sustainable infrastructure that will allow our residents to discuss and unpack issues of race, racism and prejudice, especially as it interacts with our own health care system,” said Christian.
While Christian has returned to her home state of Maryland to work as a hospital nurse at Johns Hopkins Hospital, she has been impressed with Yale School of Medicine’s dedication to the project. “It has been a privilege to see an idea come to fruition as something that has been embraced by an entire Department of Internal Medicine at your institution, that feels great. It says a lot about Yale as an institution that they are so willing to listen to good ideas and then put resources into a good idea. The fact that our leadership, Dr. Genao and Dr. Desir, were so quick and eager, and followed through on their statements so that they would support us with resources, it just makes incredible sense because that’s what makes it possible to stick with it,” she said.
RBAM is the fifth Distinction Pathway available within the Department of Internal Medicine. Read more about the core pillars and requirements on their website. Other pathways include Clinician Educator; Global health and equity; Research; and Quality Improvement & Leadership by Physicians.
Yale’s Department of Internal Medicine is one of the nation’s premier departments, bringing together an elite cadre of clinicians, researchers and educators in one of the world’s premier medical schools. For more information, visit Internal medicine.