Friday, July 11, 2008

AMA to Black Docs: 'Our Bad'

Wassup, Y'all!

The recent American Medical Association apology to America's southside doctors for their previous discriminatory practices and shabby treatment is welcome and refreshing, yet ol Ty remains a bit cynical about their overall motives. What I'm reading is that the AMA's once bright beacon of medical power, influence and prestige has been dimming in recent years and while I'm sure a large portion of their membership is on board with the apology(ies) for all the right reasons, I have to believe that an equally large portion of the membership, particularly those enjoying the trappings of AMA leadership, have calculated this move very carefully to help stem the association's steady decline.

Ol Ty has very close ties to several southside doctors who help push up the percentage of southside doctors to a ridiculously paltry 3% of all American doctors. That number is pretty stunning given the fact that southsiders make up about 13% of the American population. But here's the ominous part, y'all. Here we have one of the largest medical associations coming clean about their previous racial insensitivies perpetrated for over a century against southside doctors. What kind of medical care were member doctors giving to southside patients?...

Damn. Didn't think about that did you? Well that's why you have me around. To get you to the story *behind* the story. It's interesting that the AMA found time to join the Commission to End Health Care Disparities along with the National Medical Association - the southside doctors version of the AMA - and other minority doctor groups. The purpose of the commission is to recognize the fact that the southside nation (as well as other minority nations) suffer diseases disproportionately higher than their northside counterparts - a condition that I believe the discriminatory practices of the AMA's member doctors helped to create in the first place.

Yes, family history, lifestyle and genes play a big role in that as well, but certainly not a bigger role than aggressive preventive care and proactive health education that normally comes from your primary care doctor. Is it any wonder that southside patients tend to better when under the care of a southside doctor? Sad but true.

What's sadder is the unspoken fact that some southsiders still feel that southside doctors are inferior to their northside counterparts. That gets back to southside doctors' underrepresented numbers in the physician population (if you don't see many, you wonder if they're as good) as well as the fact that early on, southsiders were systematically denied entrance into the best medical schools. In fact, this southside phobia is even more pronounced with eastside doctors (particularly those from India), which is also a patently ridiculous notion. We know intellectually that there are good and bad doctors from every side, yet some southside brains remain convinced that you can only get the best care from a northside doctor despite evidence to the contrary.

So I'm putting a note in the Suggestion Box at the AMA's Chicago headquarters. It's going to say in short, 'Dear AMA - thanks for doin' the right thing with your recent apology. It's a good first step but in addition to that, put your money where you mouth is and put together a Public Service Announcement or ad campaign with the tagline 'Show Some Love For The Southside Doctors -It's our fault you don't trust them. We're sorry for that too.' It's a little wordy, but it gets the point across very nicely.



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