What We’re Reading: 06/12/20


Last week we shared articles relevant for laying the groundwork to dismantle systemic racism. It was just the first step out of the starting block, a toe touch on the ground. 

This week it’s time for action. What will we do?

Stolen Breaths

A must-read for every single person working in health care, and every single person who receives health care. Yes, all of us. Colleagues in Minneapolis wrote of the pain, the deep and unabiding anguish black people must carry in an unjust America. The terror at the hands of police, the burden of health risk and premature death, the weight of injustice. These just scratch the surface. Health care is built of the same system of brutality and oppression. Here, the authors provide five essential starting actions. We must do them.  (From nejm.org)

COVID-19 and Racial Disparities: Moving Towards Surgical Equity

“Social determinants of health, access to care, and implicit bias are not distributed equally in the United States, so it is unsurprising that the consequences of the pandemic are not distributed equally either.”

This is a medical paper, but it’s not overly dense. Everyone, not just surgeons and medical leadership, would benefit from reading this action plan to redesign the way we deliver surgical care. Ours is an all hands on deck situation, and this paper breaks down actionable steps clearly and concisely into three tiers: surgeon-level actions, surgical department and practice-level actions, and system-level actions. We cannot let the opportunity to redesign a more just and equitable system pass us by, it is the responsibility of all surgeons to act on health disparities.  (From journals.lww.com/annalsofsurgery

Why Black doctors like me are leaving faculty positions in academic medical centers

It’s a commonly proposed solution: we must diversify our health care workforce to reflect the population. But how can we begin that work when professional environments are unwelcoming and discriminatory? As Dr. Blackstock so clearly explains, black faculty members lack mentorship, advancement, and face barriers to promotion, all while usually being tasked with the work of executing “diversity efforts.” Standing as the token face for diversity in departments refusing to address anything but optics. Dr. Blackstock never thought she would leave, and it’s absolutely imperative we address the reasons she and countless others did.  (From statnews.com)

Some fiction—If prose can be a salve, consider this story both the wound, scars, and salve in one.


by Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison rarely wrote short stories, and this one explores the complexities of race and discrimination through the lens of motherhood. If you haven’t, read it. If you have, go ahead and read it again.  (From newyorker.com)

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