Sept. 21, 2023

SMA hosts EDI conference: Uncovering Racism in Medicine: A Pathway Forward

The Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) is dedicated to dismantling biases and discrimination experienced by medical students, residents, and physicians.

The SMA’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Committee hosts a one-day conference on Sept. 22, 2023, in Saskatoon entitled: Uncovering Racism in Medicine: A Pathway Forward.

“The EDI Committee has brought together speakers from across Canada for this conference, which is part of the SMA’s commitment to address systemic racism in the medical profession in Saskatchewan,” said SMA Physician Advocate, EDI, and SMA EDI Committee member Dr. Nnamdi Ndubuka. “We hope participants will learn how to identify and integrate the strategies needed to eliminate racism and discrimination in medicine. We are optimistic that our members will have a great learning experience,” said Dr. Ndubuka.

“Today’s conference is aptly titled ‘uncovering racism’,” noted Dr. Carla Holinaty, Chair of the EDI Committee. “We need to understand the problems before we can address them. The subtitle ‘a pathway forward’ is also apt. There are many paths forward, but the main consideration is we must move forward. I am excited at the prospect of learning new perspectives today.”

Attendees will hear a wide range of experiences from different health care settings.

Dr. Janet Tootoosis, Interim Vice Dean Indigenous Health with the College of Medicine, will present on Indigenous Health Matters. “The COVID pandemic and social movements of Black Lives Matter, Every Child Matters, and Me too to name a few have opened our eyes to the level of impact sociopolitical attitudes have on our health and wellness as a society,” she said. “Globally, health systems continue to fall short of meeting the needs of the population they serve. Why? Could a strong equity, diversity, and inclusion culture serve to mitigate some of the negative impacts of racism, bias, and classism in our systems? I argue that it may and that identifying the benefits of a socially just health system and health education system is a good place to start.”

Dr. Modupe Tunde-Byass will present on Race in healthcare. Dr. Tunde-Byass is president of Black Physicians of Canada and is a Toronto obstetrician and gynecologist.  “Maternal mortality in Black birthing mothers continues to rise and is estimated to be three to four times their white counterparts in high resource countries, yet we are not collecting race-based data in Canada,” Dr. Tunde-Byass said. “The Canadian health care system stands to gain significantly if we address the under-representation of Black physicians. Studies have shown that Black people and Black infants live longer, when cared for by Black doctors.”

Hamila Mela, a diversity and inclusion advocate from Saskatoon, presents a session entitled: Creating Safe Workplaces: Recognizing and Challenging Microaggression and Unconscious Bias: A Look at the Experiences of Minorities. She said it is important to hear voices challenging unconscious bias and behaviours that can lead to toxic workplaces. “It is important that our physicians gain an understanding of unconscious bias as evidence shows that not checking and/or being aware of those biases affects care that patients receive where the care they receive is subpar in comparison to those that there are no biases held against,” she said.

Other sessions include:

  • Racial Gaslighting: What Does It Really Mean? – Dr. Nnamdi Ndubuka
  • Be the Change: The Essential Transformation of Becoming an Anti-Racist Leader – Dr. Kannin Osei-Tutu
  • Intent, Harm and Action. Understanding Bias, Discrimination and Racism in Healthcare – Dr. Saroo Sharda
  • Storytelling as Advocacy: Listen, Write, Reflect – Dr. Saroo Sharda

The Canadian Medical Association, MD Financial Management Inc. and Scotiabank together proudly support the Saskatchewan Medical Association’s EDI Conference: Uncovering Racism in Medicine: A Pathway Forward as one of several initiatives that comprise our 10-year, $115 million commitment to supporting the medical profession and advancing health in Canada.

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