Interaction with learners

MEDiversity week: intersectionality in education and health care

I have worked in the area of ​​equity, diversity and inclusion for many decades, and for much of that time we have focused on increasing diversity in academia, in particular in the space of the faculties of medicine. For me it has been very important to increase the voices of multiple racial / ethnic groups as well as sexual orientation / gender identities in health science decision making groups to ensure we get the best information and talents available. Research confirms it: diverse teams have better results and higher productivity. However, the conversation about diversity has evolved. As we move forward on our journey to equity, we realize that people are not one-dimensional.

For example, I identify as both a Latinx and a male. For me, these two identities present themselves at the same time. It’s not like I can go to a patient’s room and let my “manhood” out, any more than I can let my “latinxity” out. Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw has called this phenomenon “intersectionality”.

Because we all have intersectional identities, we felt it was appropriate to choose “Intersectionality in Education and Health Care” as this year’s theme. Diversity week Party. As we discussed at last year’s celebration here at the Utah University of Health Sciences, we are celebrating the individuals, the “me” part of MEDiversity. Since we also train learners to treat individuals, this is fine. The ‘diversity’ part of the name means that we recognize that each of us is unique and regardless of race / ethnicity / gender etc, we all add to the diverse tapestry of our campus.

In celebrating this year, we recognize the multiple identities that simultaneously exist within each of us. We emphasize that recognizing our individual intersectional identities will help us understand ourselves, but more importantly, it will help us serve our patients.

Imagine a world where the health care provider (nurse, pharmacist, dentist, physiotherapist, doctor, etc.) recognizes more than the obvious identities of their patient and instead speaks to “the whole” of the patient. patient.

I imagine that would end racism, sexism and health disparities because we know that racism and sexism play a major role in health disparities. I also imagine it would change the therapies available to patients, as a more complete picture of who they are would be clear to the healthcare professional.

The way we see the patient in front of us changes the way we treat them. And for those of us who don’t see patients, remember that seeing the whole person – their intersections – in any interaction will lead to a more fulfilling, meaningful, and interesting experience. I hope that in some way this celebration of Diversity week will recognize intersections and bring us closer in this most difficult time.