I had to address a troubling article about Affirmative Action in Medicine that I came across. I do not wish to publicly share the link on the blog because I refuse to associate with such bitterness and hatred. Initially, my reaction was a mixture of concern and sorrow. As a child, I learned that affirmative action is a method utilized by various institutions to consider ones gender, race, religion, or national origin as a benefit. Many people forget that affirmative action is not just about race. It is about providing individuals who have been on the receiving end of discrimination with positive treatment. But many people do not believe that such people deserve a life free of oppression and discrimination.
Photo Credit: Navy Medicine Diversity
How affirmative action relates to medicine is an issue that I am going to discuss at a later time. In the meantime, I have read articles like “Racism in Medicine in American Must Be Exposed” by Dr. Sawraj Singh, M.D. and “Affirmative Action in Medicine” by Dr. James L. Curtis, M.D. to educate myself on the controversial topic. I have also read articles that challenge the role of affirmative action in medicine.
Before I even begin to share my opinion about a difficult topic, I want all future medical doctors to know this: if you think that people are discouraging you from applying to medical school for any reason, help them understand by showing them that your faith in yourself is far greater than your fear. It does not matter who you are, show people that your passion knows no limitation.
I encourage students to show that they are not swayed by oppression under any circumstances. Our experiences, both positive and negative, contributed to our personal growth and desire to pursue medicine. However, if you want to pursue a career in medicine but you are sensitive to the derogatory statements of others and allow those opinions to alter your path, maybe medicine is not the field for you.
Growing up, my race was a source of insecurity for me. I attended schools to where the minority population was so low that it included only myself. I dreaded activities like physical education and recess because I knew it would be the time when people would say and do awful things to me. I chose to pass up on opportunities that could have positively changed my outlook on society. Simply for the fear that, regardless of who I was, my race would always be the underlying issue. Can you imagine growing up like that? To have ones personality hindered at an early age because of insecurity is tragic. I found a few articles on the topic that I will read when I have the time.
Racism feels as though it will never end but I learned that my sensitivity to racism stops when I insist on disregarding it. It is painful to stumble across the spiteful words of a bitter, troubled individual. I wonder what hatred fuels them. Will I come across such a person in my medical career? What will I say to them? Will I treat them differently?
I absolutely refuse to treat any patient that I encounter in my medical career with nothing but the utmost respect and dignity. It does not matter how much they hate me, I know that I want to dedicate my life to the people who compromise the cultural and clinical morphology of medicine. The day that I disrespect a patient, peer, or colleague is the day that I’ll need to seriously reevaluate my life choices.
Photo Credit: “Racism in Medicine in America” by Dr. Sawraj Singh, M.D.
I have received messages from high school, pre-medical and post-baccalaureate students who experienced similar problems regarding their individual races. I want to tell them this again: disregard those who want to discredit you and deter you from your goals.
If your passion is to help people and contribute positively to the lives of your future patients with your unique personal and academic experiences, please continue on your path. Do not let spite and bigotry prevent you from doing just that.
- Front Page Image from “Race and the White Coat” by Rahul K. Parikh, M.D.