I am a family physician, but I also have been a patient impacted by discrimination and inequities in our national health care system. I’ve experienced times when my symptoms were dismissed, and I was denied appropriate care due to bias.
My story is not uncommon, and that fact alone should be concerning – yet another sign that we are long overdue for a paradigm shift in health care, one in which we recognize, understand and address bias and inequity in medicine.
Fortunately, the best resources to move us toward this goal are already embedded within our health care system: family physicians.
Family physicians form close relationships with patients and their families throughout their lives. We are a trusted source of help and hope for our patients, and we bear witness to social and structural inequities impacting their health. We have a keen awareness of their communities and environments, and because of this, we are uniquely positioned to help bridge equity gaps.
Still, there are essential steps that need to be taken to support primary care in the U.S. as we work to build these bridges. The U.S. health care system has to recognize the social needs that exist, adequately train physicians to help meet those needs, and secure a more robust and diverse workforce.