The American Medical Association (AMA) Code of Ethics urges physicians to "advocate for social, economic, educational, and political changes that ameliorate suffering and contribute to human well-being." [Medscape]
But how achievable is that level of physician activism in today's highly divisive US society? The differing attitudes among doctors, and how those attitudes shape actions taken or avoided, are shown in the Medscape Physicians' Views on Racial Disparities Issues Report 2022.
Survey respondents and commenters on the report expressed opinions that often sharply differed about the impact of racial disparities, how they influence delivery of patient care, and how they affect healthcare providers and staff.
How Dialed Into Racism Are Doctors?
Medscape surveyed doctors about 10 leading social issues. They ranked racial disparities third in terms of importance, behind healthcare access and substance/opioid abuse. Non-White survey respondents ranked racial disparities as an important issue somewhat more frequently than their White peers did.
"Even in extremely reputable professions like medicine, people are facing racism," one pediatrician respondent wrote. A family medicine physician respondent asserted: "We in medicine need to do better. I encourage insight about ourselves to learn about how to rectify injustice."
But other doctors felt certain social issues like racial disparities are disconnected from their professional duties. One commenter opined, "This topic is simply not our job as a physician. Keep your eye on the ball."
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