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Researchers create a framework to instill an anti-racist culture

IU School of Medicine researchers, led by Sylk Sotto, EdD, assistant professor of medicine, have established a framework to identify institutional and systematic changes necessary to create an anti-racism environment. Sotto and her team’s work has been published in The Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Sotto and her team identified two main initiatives that need to be at the forefront of every organization striving to build an anti-racist environment and culture. The first is leadership engagement with more support from people who hold the most power in an organization.

“We can no longer rely on the small community of faculty to be responsible for all the work,” stated Sotto, the vice-chair for Faculty Affairs and Professional Development at IU School of Medicine. “We need more inclusive leaders to develop an antiracist culture and climate at the institution level. Leaders should embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion in every decision they make for program development, and in every aspect of their day-to-day.”

The second initiative is installing diversity, equity, and inclusion resources for faculty. For the anti-racist framework to be effective and create an inclusive culture, Sotto said these two initiatives need to be the foundation.

“We must approach the development and implementation of antiracism education for faculty development with the same focus on scholarship and academic rigor as we do for other elements of medical education,” said Sotto, who is also the vice-chair for diversity, health equity, and inclusion in the Department of Medicine at IU School of Medicine.

The team of researchers also identifies a necessity for building self-awareness and an understanding of one’s own self-biases as another beginning piece of the framework. “The process of acting in the advancement for equality does not take unintended consequences for granted,” stated Sotto, the director for All IN for Health, which is a program of the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI).

“For every situation, even where we meant well, we need to go back and rethink our decision-making process to make sure our decisions were impacting everyone in a positive way.”

Speaking as a part of the academic medical community, Sotto urges educators to speak out and eliminate racism in order to improve the health of people everywhere. She wants everyone to acknowledge the impact systemic racism has had on our society and be aware of the determinants it has placed on our health. By doing this, Sotto believes the educational practices and health system policies will not increase disparities.

Read the full publication here.

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.

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