The summer is coming to an end, and I hope you were able to take advantage of the opportunities to engage with one another. The board was able to meet and enjoy some IRL (In Real Life) COVID compliant time together. I was reminded of how much I enjoy connecting with my family physician peers and that I look forward to meeting with you all IRL.
You may have seen our board communique about our newly approved statement on health equity and racism. Our overall mission and vision remain the same, but we recognize that including aspects of health equity into all of areas of the MDAFP strategy will improve health outcomes for all in Maryland. While the MDAFP Task Force on Health Equity and Racism formalized this statement recently, we have already incorporated health equity into our charge.
As an example of steps that the academy has already started, the MDAFP has been offering implicit bias training for the last two years and will continue to make this a priority for education. Implicit bias is a universal phenomenon that can occur within anyone, and on some level, is occurring amongst all of us. When you have a bias rather than being neutral, when you have a preference for or aversion to a person or group of people without conscious knowledge, that is implicit bias. As Family Physicians, it is important for us to acknowledge that even as we consciously decide to give every individual patient the best possible care, our implicit biases may impact our decision making. This year the Maryland General Assembly passed a bill requiring healthcare workers to engage in evidenced based implicit bias training at least every two years and the MDAFP is prepared to help you fulfill that requirement. We are also looking to add implicit bias training sessions into our pipeline workgroups so that our residents and students can gain some awareness of implicit bias early in their professional journey. You should also know that the MDAFP’s focus and prioritization on health equity and inclusion is in alignment with the AAFP’s efforts and priorities.
Your Academy has published statements, formed the taskforce, and provided education…this is just the beginning. We need to keep this at the forefront, and we need to hear from you. What are you seeing in your practice, in your health system, in your community? What can we do to help? Please let us know and help join the Academy and be part of the solution to confront health disparities to improve the health of all people and institutional racism in the healthcare system.
The leadership and staff of the MDAFP stand for respect and dignity to all persons and believe that the collective and powerful impact of Family Physicians can change our society for good. Thank you for continuing to join us in this good work.
Jocelyn Hines, MD