Updated: Aug 18, 2020
Remember the Tuskegee Experiment? Look it up if not.
If you posted a black square or anything related to racial and social injustice that is finally getting attention in the "land of the free" this past week---Thank you for showing on some social media platform that you care. But we have to care more. This is "just a microcosm of a larger macroproblem" cue Oakland's own Zion-I.
I have shifted my own narrative from "I am a clinician who wants to help everyone regardless of age, sex, or race"...to "I am an ANTI-RACIST clinician." I think this carries more weight. I think this has more intention. I think this forces me to take extra steps to help contribute to the cure.
My healthcare professionals: we know health disparities exist. But it's not enough to just learn "a certain population is more likely to act ____ because they are ____." I think we should commit to asking "Why?" Did you know black men wait longer for an initial EKG? I had a speaker tell my class once, that he has to wear a SUIT if he is going to the ER for treatment just so he does not wait longer. Can you imagine feeling like you're having a heart attack, and then worrying about getting a suit on before you go to the ER? The ER! Why do they feel that way? Implicit biases and racism exist in healthcare and it is unacceptable.
I can confidently say 90% of the black patients I have treated have come to me with a story of a failed healthcare encounter because the clinician brushed the patient off and did not believe what they were saying. If this doesn't outrage you, I encourage you to review your white coat oath. I challenge you to take active steps in your practice to FIX THIS. Reach out to predominantly black communities, volunteer at health fairs, volunteer in sports programs in underserved communities, seek out black clinicians and hire them, LEARN.
So Dear POC,
As your physical therapist, I promise I will stand with you and fight for your equality. You are my patient, client, and responsibility. You matter to me. I will advocate for you because I care. I am your ally every day and your advocate inside the clinic. I stand with you. Thank you for letting me care. Every visit along your journey.
Dr. Malek, PT, DPT