Facing Race: A National Conference in St. Louis, MO — November 20-22, 2024

Malika Fair

Association of American Medical Colleges

Presentations from Facing Race 2022

Confronting Dominant Narratives in Medicine

In October 2021, the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Center for Health Justice published Advancing Health Equity: A Guide to Language, Narrative and Concepts. Designed for physicians and other healthcare professionals, the guide aims to promote an understanding of equity-focused, person-first language and why it matters, while at the same time opening discussion about dominant narratives in medicine (particularly narratives around race, gender, meritocracy, and individualism).

In this interactive session, we explore the need for this guide and through an interactive writing exercise, develop ways of confronting and overcoming resistance to narrative change. The guide has generated a great deal of discussion in medicine, with some praising it as a vitally needed component of health equity work, and others rejecting it as an act of language policing.

Our workshop is designed around a simple but powerful strategy to support participants in building narrative power. In facilitated small groups, participants will develop a short piece of text – something that could be developed into a letter to their physician or local community hospital (calling for or supporting their efforts regarding language and narrative), or could take the form of a start of an op ed or newspaper story. These pieces would take an element from the guide (e.g., critique of the notion of “vulnerability”) and apply / extend that work to a local context. These pieces of writing, in turn, could then be featured in updated AMA / AAMC Center for Health Justice materials.

Speakers: Fernando De Maio, Malika Fair