Leading social change in medicine

Dr. Priya Veeraraghavan and Dr. Terry Moy-Brown want to create an environment where people can bring their whole selves to work and patients can feel fully connected and supported. It’s a vision that has created excitement throughout the clinic. At launch, more than 100 individuals from across the organization applied to join the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. Read more in this third installment of our leading women series.

Part 3: Dr. Priya Veeraraghavan and Dr. Terry Moy-Brown, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee Founders

Dr. Priya Veeraraghavan is an internist and pediatrician at Vancouver Clinic. Dr. Terry Moy-Brown is an emergency medicine physician. In addition to being talented doctors, these women claim the titles of “mother,” “person of color,” and “advocate.” Their goal is to use their many experiences to lead change on social justice issues.

“When I look at people who are similar to myself, I see a lot more checkpoints, stops, and uncertainty they have to get through,” Dr. Veeraraghavan said. “When we don’t bring light to that, we miss out on a lot of great thinkers and doers.”

To tackle some of the disparities women and minorities face, Dr. Veeraraghavan and Dr. Moy-Brown formed the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. The group focuses on topics impacting providers, staff, and patients.

“What’s great about the clinic is at the foundation we have the desire to care about people,” Dr. Moy-Brown said. “It’s written into our mission. Using diversity and inclusion values to do that isn’t a big leap.”

The group’s goal is to foster an environment that attracts the best talent, practices inclusivity, and values diverse life experiences in employees and patients. The words might sound lofty or abstract, but the impact on the ground is real.

One of the committee’s first major projects is tackling maternal and infant care. By looking at the health of mothers and their babies by race at a local level, doctors and providers can make changes to serve people better.

“When you track patient outcomes you can improve things for all patients,” Dr. Moy-Brown said.

The committee is looking internally too. It created a zero-tolerance policy for hate speech and discrimination and developed a system for tracking and addressing diversity and equity concerns. Moving forward, the group will focus on changes that enable women and people of color to fill more leadership roles.

In Dr. Veeraraghavan’s experience, even simple changes can make a big impact. Instead of holding meetings at 7 a.m. when many parents—and frequently working mothers—are trying to get their kids ready for school, the committee holds its meetings later in the day or evening.

“Morning meetings may be convenient for many people, perhaps even for the majority, but if you’re leaving women out, it’s not equitable,” she said.

Women outnumber men in medical schools, and half of patients are women. In order for the medical community to intuitively understand the needs of doctors and patients, women’s voices have to be heard, she added.

The committee sees other opportunities for change as well—such as creating mentorship opportunities and celebrating more cultural holidays. For Dr. Moy-Brown, her highest hope is that diversity and inclusivity values become woven into the clinic’s DNA.

“I want it almost to feel like we aren’t working on it, but instead that it permeates everything we do,” she said.

Article Source: Vancouver Clinic