In June of 2018, I met with Congresswoman, Lori Trahan. We discussed issues ranging from small business success to the national physician shortage.
The low number of physicians of color in Massachusetts was also discussed. There are few physicians in clinical and leadership positions, and it needed to be addressed.
And to share with all of you, after we met, she sent me this very kind letter thanking me for speaking with her.
I was joined by a fantastic physician, Margarita R. Ochoa-Maya, MD, CDE, CCD. Her presence was more than welcomed. She shared some personal stories highlighting the need to face these issues head-on.
Recently, I celebrated two years of being in business. But there have been challenges to recruiting physicians for color in Massachusetts.
These struggles include push back from physicians of color working in Massachusetts and physicians have expressed:
Not feeling safe
Not seeing diversity
And lack of support...
As reasons not to work in Massachusetts.
Comments from physicians of color include:
"Boston is a super racist city...the hospitals are amazing. I'm sure there are good spots...It's just hard to rationalize."
"My girl who was trained at (unnamed major Boston hospital) told me she got called the N-word twice per shift."
"(Unnamed renown Academic institution) was willing to pay me $50K more than what I make now, but I said hell no, I would NEVER go to Massachusetts. The racism is palpable, especially inside hospital walls. I just wouldn't want to be that miserable."
"The money is not worth being degraded daily by your peers AND your patients."
"I just can't deal with micro-aggressions from colleagues all day then -expletive- like that from patients. She said nurses would ignore her orders. All types of -expletive-."
I really wish this were not the reality.
And, if the comments above make you uncomfortable, THEN GREAT.
If you are a Commonwealth healthcare leader, have you done your due diligence to address these matters? Or do you prefer the status quo?
With this said, I am reminded of this 2018 Boston Globe article. The article addresses how Boston can fix its historical "unwelcoming" perception.
As we near 2020, are we still talking about these issues?
Are there any healthcare leaders with current data showing real progress? Or, was it just seen as a "flavor of the week" issue?
All I can say is that many communities are not seeing people who look like them at many medical institutions.
So, we should all continue to ask why.
Making a case for diversity in healthcare is a no-brainer. Simply put - it saves lives. Finally, and it goes without saying, I want to be on the side of creating solutions.
I also want to believe that other healthcare leaders want to be on the side of creating solutions.
But, many may not know where to start or do not have the political will or interest to start.
I'll be very transparent.
The Leap Network LLC is my business, and it supports my family and livelihood. I do not run a nonprofit.
Part of my mission is to partner with current and prospective clients to close the racial, gender, and ethnic gap in healthcare.
My ability to BEST serve my clients who care about these issues also hinges on a culturally sensitive climate.
Clients must also be culturally competent and aware of what they are doing, or not doing, to attract a medical team that can save the lives of a growing multicultural and aging patient population.
I am also VERY biased when it comes to Massachusetts. It is my current home, and I want the best for her.
But, is this relationship reciprocal when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion in our healthcare organizations?
I think the data will give us an answer.