Actions Speak Louder Than Words

ACOFP's Statement on Racism, Discrimination and Bias

 
In light of the recent events in Minnesota and around the country, ACOFP leadership wants to be clear that, as an organization and profession, we have and continue to denounce racism and all forms of discrimination. These events have multiplied the fear, anger and unrest—fueled by decades of injustice against community members of color, who have suffered physically, mentally and spiritually.
 
As osteopathic family physicians in communities across our nation, we have seen how these societal and systemic issues have adversely impacted the health of individuals of color. As an organization of more than 18,000 practicing osteopathic family physicians, residents and students throughout the United States, we are committed to addressing the current and unfortunate reality of racism and inequality. 
 
Since we believe that actions speak louder than words, we wanted to take some time to review our policy and recent initiatives and, most importantly, work on new actions that we plan to take to address racism, discrimination and bias.
 

Advocacy

Advocating against discrimination on behalf of racial and ethnic minorities has consistently been a priority for ACOFP.
 
In March 2019, the ACOFP Congress of Delegates passed Resolution No. 20 in Opposition to Patient Discrimination of Osteopathic Family Physicians Because of Race, Color, Religion, Gender, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity or National Origin. In February 2020, the ACOFP Board of Governors approved the 2020 Principles of Health Care System Reform, with a focus on vulnerable populations.
 
Today, we are proud to share our new statement on racial health disparities, reviewed and approved by the ACOFP Board of Governors, which will be used in our ongoing advocacy efforts. 
 

Education

The development of core curriculum guidelines to address cultural competency and health care disparities throughout the lifelong continuum of osteopathic medical education has also been a priority. In fact, at the ACOFP ’20 Virtual event, Dr. Colleen Cagno and Dr. Victoria Murrain from the University of Arizona College of Medicine led a session on “Implicit Bias in FM Residency: What FM Educators Can Do to Explicitly Address It.” To ensure the broadest reach of this important subject, we have made this presentation available for all. I encourage you to watch it here
 
We are also developing programming for the upcoming Intensive Osteopathic Update virtual event on bias, racism and social determinants of health. Keep an eye on the schedule-at-a-glance for more information.
 

Engagement & Recognition

Sometimes we must face issues that make us uncomfortable; as DOs, it is our duty to confront these problems to help find solutions. To further the conversation on implicit bias, I invite you to join us for our next Virtual Doctor's Lounge on Saturday, June 27. This interactive event will provide an informal forum to hear strategies and challenges from fellow physicians and share the issues you’re facing on a day-to-day basis. Sign up here.
 
We had planned to launch ACOFP’s new Diversity Equity & Inclusion Leadership Award at our annual convention in March, in honor of our 70th anniversary and our continued efforts to strengthen ACOFP and the profession moving forward, but that event was canceled. Now I am pleased to announce this opportunity to recognize ACOFP members of underrepresented minorities who actively champion initiatives to promote health equity and inclusion within the osteopathic profession and/or for the communities they serve. The call for nominations for this award will open in the coming months with our other annual awards and recognition.   
 
Finally, to ensure that ACOFP continues to take action in response to racism, discrimination and bias, we will convene a Task Force on Racism & Health to review ACOFP’s efforts to date and make recommendations to the Board of Governors on measurable steps moving forward. The call for nominations will launch in the coming weeks. 
 
ACOFP leadership believes that we have an important role to play in denouncing racism and discrimination, reducing implicit bias and removing barriers to health care for minorities. These steps are only the beginning. On behalf of the Board of Governors, I invite you to join us in driving solutions and enacting real, sustained change. 

Osteopathically yours,



Robert C. DeLuca, DO, FACOFP dist.
ACOFP President


P.S. For even more on this topic, please check out my “From the President’s Desk” article, which will be featured in the July/August issue of Osteopathic Family Physician, and is available now on the ACOFP blog.