By Richard Brown and Nikki Livingston
In October 2020, Implementing Conversations to Advance Racial Equity (iCare) was launched by Faculty Affairs, Professional Development, and Diversity (FAPDD) to call for racial equity in health care. The program seeks to prepare persons affiliated with IU School of Medicine to lead action and conversations related to addressing systematic racism and race inequities. While IUSM ICARE is open to all school community members, the target audience is non-minoritized people, seeking to reach those whose identity is connected with the majority racial group.
Dawn Neuman, PhD, director of the Indiana University Interactive and Functional Assessment of Communication and Emotion (InterFACE) Center at Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana, is a member of IUSM ICARE’s second cohort.
“I am impressed with FAPDD and all of the resources available for career development and success. I enjoy working at IU School of Medicine because I can make a difference in people’s lives and have access to resources that can advance my career and help me become more effective at my job.”
She shared her experience with the IUSM ICARE program and how she has grown personally around discussions about racial equity and diverse perspectives.
What does diversity mean to you?
Diversity means there is equal inclusion of people with a wide variety of different social identities. When I think of diversity, I think of many different types of complementary strengths, perspectives and experiences coming together to make a stronger whole. I don’t think anybody can say it better than Maya Angelou’s brilliant quote: “We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.”
What motivated you to participate in the IUSM ICARE program?
We cannot begin to erode systemic racism without having difficult conversations seeking to confront and overcome the inherent racial inequities and discrimination in our institutions. I need to be a part of the solution. Unfortunately, when it comes to talking about race, I feel completely out of my depth. That said, I have done it in the past (on an individual level, not an institutional one) and it has never been very productive. I have never changed the way a person thought or would act going forward. If I can’t change how one person thinks or acts, how could I promote change on a grander scale? I participated in IUSM ICARE because I saw it as an opportunity to better equip myself with the tools to have critical conversations necessary for promoting racially just institutions.
How have you benefited from participating in the IUSM ICARE program?
IUSM ICARE has significantly contributed to my personal growth. I feel more empowered to have the difficult conversations needed to address racial inequities. Specifically, IUSM ICARE heightened my awareness of the more subtle or covert racist actions and mechanisms that often go unnoticed. IUSM ICARE helped me further develop insight into my disproportionate privileges, and alternatively, factors that contribute to racial inequities in academia and health care. I learned some communication tactics and other approaches that are likely to lead to better outcomes when altering racist attitudes, practices and systems. As such, I feel more empowered to speak up about racist issues – and I have already employed some of these tactics (with success) since participating in IUSM ICARE. Finally, it also gave me hope to participate in a group of similar-minded people who care about being an active part of this anti-racist work in our institution.
However, one workshop certainly does not make a person an expert, and I know that I still have a long way to go to maximize my potential effectiveness in this area. Still, I am so thankful to the IUSM ICARE instructors and organizers for their willingness to be transparent and vulnerable in sharing their knowledge and experiences and for being blunt and refraining from sugar-coating the issues.
What are you looking forward to as it relates to equity in medicine and medical sciences?
- Increased representational diversity among faculty and staff
- A more equitable system of promotion and tenure
- A greater representation of research participants who are Black and Hispanic—which means learning ways to establish a trusting relationship with patients of color
- Access to equitable health care for all—where all patients, regardless of color, can access the care they need AND be treated with dignity and respect
- Increasing cultural humility and awareness
In February 2021, IUSM iCare will welcome its third and fourth cohorts to participate in separate four-week-long experiences. In March 2021, the series takes the significant next step of welcoming its first cohorts of learners, engaging students and trainees on racial equity topics.
This interdisciplinary program leverages the expertise of faculty and administrators from around the IU landscape. To learn more about IUSM ICARE, or to register to participate in one of the future cohorts, visit faculty.medicine.iu.edu/diversity/icare