The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), which accredits medical schools, and the American Medical Association (AMA) have released a document titled "Advancing Health Equity: A Guide to Language, Narrative and Concepts". One of the concepts? Race isn't a biological category – it's just a social construct "for producing and reinforcing power"; and therefore, medicine shouldn't recognize differences in the DNA of different races.
For example, a section of the document states:
"New AMA policy passed in November 2020 explicitly calls for ending the practice of using race as a proxy for biology in medical education, research and clinical practice …. In contrast to a race-based approach, a race-conscious framework can promote anti-racist practices, shifting focus from race to racism in all its forms." (p. 14 of the AAMC/AMA document)
Dr. Jeff Barrows of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations explains that implementation of this concept could stop critical research on diseases that present primarily in one race or another.
"Add to that the fact that they're saying No, we need to [medically] treat all races equally – that's moving away from medicine," Barrows exclaims. "There are diseases that are confined to certain races. We know that."
The medical groups say they are fighting "narratives grounded in white supremacy and sustaining structural racism." One of those narratives? Some medical students are better or more talented than others – a concept called meritocracy.
"So, what's happened is that because it's subjective, the AMA and the AAMC have decided [they are] going to define equity the way [they] want to define it, and [they're] going to impose that on medicine – and specifically, in this example, medical students."
Barrows says it's one thing for woke silliness to work its way into social studies, but this is science.
"My greatest fear would be that in time they would impose certain equity requirements upon getting in to various specialties," he shares. "In other words, getting down to the philosophical roots of 'What does that person really believe? Do they accept the right definition of equity?'"
The document also offers seven "equity-focused alternatives" to some terms commonly used in health care:
- "Cultural humility" instead of cultural competence
- "Groups experiencing disadvantages" instead of disadvantaged or underserved
- "Formerly incarcerated" instead of ex-con or felon
- "Undocumented immigrants" instead of illegal immigrants
- "Native peoples" instead of Indians
- "Historically marginalized" instead of minority or underrepresented minority
- "Nonadherence" instead of noncompliance