Course Directors: Kathy McGrail, MD and Marla Rowe Gorosh, MD
Winter Course is reserved for ACH Faculty, FITs, RCFs, and guests (typically those interested in the RCF or FIT program) to spend time in intensive communication skills training and personal awareness development in a retreat-like setting.
We went into healthcare with the goal of helping people and doing good in the world- and we have learned, that in addition to the incredible importance of interpersonal and communication skills in the provider- patient relationship, the power and influence health care providers have in support of our patients and colleagues. We have an opportunity to expand our awareness and actions by exploring injustice that affects the healthcare system, and fortifying our voice and actions.
Most of us believe, or at least hope, that we, as individual, ethical practitioners, are not biased in our treatment of patients. But research tells us that belief is most often ill founded, that our interactions with patients activate all sorts of stereotypes and bias without our consent. And once activated, despite our hopes and beliefs to the contrary, those biases affect our interactions and their outcomes in adverse ways.
In addition to interpersonal, unconscious bias, we practice, work and teach in systems that are themselves structurally biased, providing better care to some patients than to others, better opportunities to some learners, colleagues, and staff than others.
As our understanding of racism in healthcare grows and our understanding of health and healthcare disparities exapnds, we are left wanting and hoping to do better, and wondering how to do that. But it is often said in QI circles, that “hope is not a strategy.”
Racial justice work in any setting requires that we look deeply at ourselves and that we learn what we are doing that undermines racial equity and justice, and that we look at the context in which we work and live for elements of institutional racism that might lie within our spheres of influence.
Though hope is not a strategy, Virginia Safford in her Inner Life of Rebellion says this:
“Our mission is to plant ourselves at the gates of hope —a very different, sometimes very lonely place, the place of truth-telling, about your own soul first of all and its condition, the place of resistance and defiance, the piece of ground from which you see the world both as it is and as it could be, as it might be, as it will be; the place from which you glimpse not only struggle, but joy in the struggle — and we stand there, beckoning and calling, telling people what we are seeing, asking people what they see.”
So, what does racial justice and healthcare equity work look like for us as healthcare educators, practitioners and leaders in relationship centered communication? This is the central work of this winter course. It is not easy work, but you have asked to move forward with it. And so, this week, we will stand there “at the gates of hope”, and we will beckon, call, ask and tell until we can together find our way forward.
By the end of the course participants will be able to:
1. Define and demonstrate shared equity concepts and vocabulary
2. Articulate the specific values and skills we bring to equity work
3. Understand, and identify where and how, unconscious bias and institutional bias manifests itself in ourselves, our workplaces and ACH
4. Identify the manifestations of racism- power and privilege (and other “isms”) in our lives and work and collective life and use that to name our personal and collective equity goals
5. Identify actions we can take and specific skills we need to strengthen, as clinicians, teachers, mentors and colleagues, to move forward in our personal and organizational equity journeys