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Anyone experienced racism at University?

Discussion in 'Underrepresented in Healthcare' started by Fete, Aug 21, 2015.

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  1. Fete

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    Anyone ever dealt with microaggressions and racism from students teaching assistants and/or faculty at university, especially majoring in a science? I know I am not the only one. It is horrible. What were your experiences? How do you overcome this? I sort of kind of regret not going to a HBCU, having to deal with every hurdle that was and is still being thrown at me.

    A medical doctor even told me that I will have to face the same type of racism in medical school and afterwards, Patients have told him that they don't want to see a black doctor, even black patients themselves.

    What are tools you guys have used to block this out? Have you ever doubted yourself when facing this kind of discrimination?
     
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  3. neurotroph

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    From students, definitely. And when I started getting bad grades, I internalized that discrimination and doubted my abilities. Then out of fear of receiving even more racism/microaggressions from faculty, I avoided going to office hours to get extra help. The result of that is a pretty nasty GPA my freshman/sophomore years. When I look back at it I realize that I was legitimately depressed during my freshman year as a result of this stuff.

    I guess I overcame it when I finally realized that I had to get my **** together if I wanted to get into the kinds of med schools that I was aiming for. I had to tell myself that I deserved to be at my school and that I was more than capable of doing well if I just studied harder, because the bare minimum wasn't working anymore like it worked for me in high school. I also told myself that people were going to be racist regardless, so I shouldn't bother concerning myself with what they were thinking. It also helped to have friends who were dealing with the same thing who I could vent with. The microaggressions still hurt, but by the end I didn't let them get into my head as much. Nevertheless, I was very happy to finally graduate lol. If I could do it all over again, I'd definitely still go to the same school. Just wish I had been prepared for what was coming.
     
  4. Cirujana4Justicia

    Cirujana4Justicia Membership Revoked
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    I am writing this in order to expose wrongdoings committed at a NYS medical school. My life has been significantly impacted by this issue. This is for all students, but especially for those considered to be minorities. It is highly personal, but I feel encouraged to be able to share this story with future doctors below:


    BEWARE OF WHERE YOU APPLY & ATTEND MEDICAL SCHOOL……


    I am a physician, and graduated from the SUNY at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. I completed a one year Internship in surgery. My career goal was to become a neurological surgeon. That dream and my life are over. The school would not grant me the complete number of years (6-7) required to achieve my career goal and placed me into a 1 year slot only. There were also some issues regarding my residency match, in which several believed was unscrupulously adulterated by certain members of the school’s administration so that I, a young person of color, would not fully match in a surgical residency training position. Since I have graduated from this medical institution, I have received nothing but the most contemptuous treatment from the school’s administration and staff. It has been to my utter dismay that I have been unable to successfully apply to and complete a residency program in my field of interest, because each and every time I or a program contacts the school for documentation, there is an abrupt denial or refusal to provide the requested documents.


    When I have attempted to apply to other surgical programs, the school’s Office of Medical Education (OME) and the Graduate Medical Education (GME) office would not send out my application materials in their entirety via ERAS so that I could be placed in a residency and complete my training. This was primarily at the hands of the Senior Dean of the OME. Whenever I called to inquire about my paperwork or application completion, she refused to take my calls and staff repeatedly told me they could not act on my behalf because “Dr. No told them so.” As a medical student, I was informed by Dr. No that she did not believe I could become a surgeon because “people like you (the PG version) simply cannot operate”, and that “she would not support my decision” and would take measures to use her office and position to “block my application” so “that it would not and could not ever happen, dear.”


    I have spent hundreds to thousands of dollars applying through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) with repeated failure secondary to the issue of my requested letters of recommendation being sent to the OME, but not being uploaded or being "lost" so that I would not have a completed application. Other documents would not be uploaded as well. Whenever I would make contact with the OME via telephone, the staff there would either place me on hold extensively, promise to call me back and fail to, or state to me that they have "never received any documents" for me. In addition, I was never allowed to discuss my concerns with anyone there and was always forwarded onlyto Dr. No, with whom I have had an extremely extensive and negative history of experiences. Therefore, I have never had a completed application to be accepted for review by any residency program. Her prediction came true in its entirety. One cruel person has changed the entire trajectory of my life and destroyed my future.


    It has become painfully obvious to me and others that my current situation is evident of a blatant misuse and abuse of power by persons who were in authority at the time of my professional education. It is a travesty of justice for someone to actively work to derail and outright decimate the career of a student simply because they have the power to do so. There has also been a significant interference with my prospective economic advantage in relation to the harm done to my potential surgical career earnings due to lost years of training and employment. I simply fail to comprehend how and why I am receiving such disgraceful treatment as a graduate of a U.S. medical school. It is now 2015, and because of lost income and lost opportunity, I have been unable to appropriately provide for myself and pay off the hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. I would have been able to do so had I been allowed to successfully complete a residency and fellowship, culminating in a career as a fully trained surgeon. I do not believe I am any less important or less capable than my class of cohorts that have proven themselves, completed residencies, and progressed in successful careers in medicine. I should have been provided the opportunity long ago to do the same. However, I continue to receive inappropriately harsh and unethical treatment which many have perceived to be blatantly racist, bigoted, and discriminatory. Poverty, instability and discrimination are the shaky foundations of too many lives. They are also leading risk factors for depression. Thus began my very intimate association with mental illness. My diagnoses: Severe major depression with suicide attempt of high lethality and PTSD.


    I later returned to school and acquired Master’s degrees and advanced training fellowships in translational medical research in order to acquire another doctorate. This opportunity was removed from me after a SUNY institution misused governmental funds and refused to provide monies allotted to it for my education and training.


    I went to see three NYS Senators about this situation. None helped.

    I went to see my Congressional officer. There was no help for me there.

    The Governor? No help for me there, either.

    I lost my salary and benefits. My student loans charged off. I cannot repay them. I lost my residence, degrees and belongings. I was out on the street with nowhere to go or anyone to turn to.


    I felt robbed again.

    I descended further into the abyss of mental illness.

    I developed nightmares. I became immobile, agoraphobic, and could not eat or care for myself. I survived a severe suicide attempt, but I became disabled. Most of my days are spent in sickness, rather than in health. I came from a humble background, and was a scholarship student all of my life. I worked hard for everything I had achieved. I had mistakenly believed that if one was honest and diligent, one would succeed. Was I ever wrong in that assumption. I will never work again. This was not supposed to happen to “someone like me”. I want to make this story public as a cautionary tale to inform others who have, or will suffer injustices of this nature. I’d also like to inform those who choose to help them. Thank you.
     
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  5. jakeislove

    jakeislove MS IV
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    You get used to it.
     
  6. Fete

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    This is terrible. Ive also had faculty try to sabotage me in an undergraduate institution. I was appalled that in 2015 people could be so blatantly racist, it put me through so much unbearable emotional pain. I cried uncontrollably for many days and was afraid of entering class at times, my grades even plummeted. Though I have left the institution, I am still greatly affected by this. Racial discrimination should definitely be a crime punishable by incarceration.

    Keep your head up, and your fight just began just know that you will get through this ordeal.

    God put you through this for a reason, please do not give up the fight now. Your story will have a positive ending, and you have potential to expose and change the country. Your final story could be inspirational!
     
  7. EvolutionaryRevolutionary

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    I am so sorry this happened to you. Thank you for the heads up. I won't be applying there. Also, I am here witnessing your pain and hopefully my energy reaches you well.





     
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  8. Cirujana4Justicia

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    Thank you so very much. Something to read, someone sent it to me from another forum:

    On Being a Doctor: Shining a Light on the Dark Side
    Christine Laine, MD, MPH; Darren B. Taichman, MD, PhD; and Michael A. LaCombe, MD


    Ann Intern Med. 2015;163(4):320. doi:10.7326/M15-1144


    This issue includes an On Being a Doctor essay, titled “Our Family Secrets,” that we think, and hope, will make readers' stomachs churn (1). In this essay, the author describes teaching a medical humanities course to senior medical students and asking, “Do any of you have someone to forgive from your clinical experiences? Did anything ever happen that you need to forgive or perhaps still can't forgive?” One of the students—clearly distraught—recounts lacking the courage to object to a surgeon's highly disrespectful behavior to a patient under general anesthesia for a vaginal hysterectomy. The author then recounts how he was an accomplice to the harrowing behavior of an obstetrician during a delivery complicated by uterine atony and hemorrhage. The first incident reeked of misogyny and disrespect—the second reeked of all that plus heavy overtones of sexual assault and racism.

    Many On Being a Doctor essays highlight positive aspects of our profession and are uplifting and inspirational. Why did we choose to publish something that exposes medicine's dark underbelly? If you haven't read the essay, we urge you to read it now before continuing here.

    Although we wish it were otherwise, most physicians at some point find themselves in the midst of situations where a colleague acts in a manner that is disrespectful to a patient. There are various ways that we might react when witnessing such behavior. When the perpetrator is a superior, we may feel pressure to join in, as the author and his student did. After all, it was just a joke and the patient was unaware, right? Alternatively, we might simply remain silent. Saying nothing robs the perpetrator of an audience and, hopefully, extinguishes the incentive to continue the behavior. Or we might be the anesthesiologist in the essay and demand an end to the behavior and even chastise the perpetrators. Although we know of no empirical evidence about which response is most common, we speculate that it is silence and that there are too few “anesthesiologists” among us. If the essay gives just one physician the courage to act like the anesthesiologist in this story, then it will be well worth publishing.

    It is our hope that the essay will gnaw on the consciences of readers who may recall an instance of their own repugnant behavior. The story is an opportunity to see what this behavior looks like to others and starkly shows that it is anything but funny. After finishing it, readers guilty of previous offense will hopefully think twice before acting in a manner that demeans patients and makes trainees and colleagues squirm. Again, if the essay squelches such behavior even once, then it was well worth publishing.

    Ambiguity magnifies the power of the essay. Is the author struggling to forgive the surgeon for his poor treatment of Mrs. Lopez, or is he struggling to forgive himself for joining in the antics or for not acting more like the anesthesiologist? Is it right to be appalled by the surgeon when, despite his oafish behavior, he really did save the patient's life? Saving a patient's life seems like a pretty good demonstration of respect, doesn't it?

    Multiple interpretations of the piece are valid and lend insight. They were reflected in the lengthy and heated discussion that occurred among our editorial team when considering whether to publish the story. The discussion was so impassioned and opinions so disparate that we needed a “time-out” and came back to it a week later after we had ample time to contemplate the issues raised. We all agreed that the piece was disgusting and scandalous and could damage the profession's reputation. Some believed that this was reason not to publish the story. Others believed that it was precisely why weshouldpublish it.

    When we finally decided to publish the essay, we did so under the condition that the author would remain anonymous. We have done this in only one other instance. Then, as now, we did so to protect the identity of any person who might be identified, most importantly the patients.

    We hope that medical educators and others will use this essay as a jumping-off point for discussions that explore the reasons why physicians sometimes behave badly and brainstorm strategies for handling these ugly situations in real time. By shining a light on this dark side of the profession, we emphasize to physicians young and old that this behavior is unacceptable—we should not only refrain from personally acting in such a manner but also call out our colleagues who do. We all need the strength to act like the anesthesiologist in this story and call our colleagues “assholes” when that label is appropriate. We owe it to ourselves, to our profession, and especially to our patients.

    · Our Family Secrets

    Ann Intern Med. 2015;163(4):321. doi:10.7326/M14-2168

    ·

    One day in January, I was facilitating a fourth-year elective course with eight medical students. It was a medical humanities class, and the topic that afternoon was the virtue of forgiveness. A student named David led the discussion, and I listened as they exchanged ideas. When their energy waned, I asked, “Do any of you have someone to forgive from your clinical experiences? Did anything ever happen that you need to forgive or perhaps still can't forgive?”

    I waited for an answer, but no one said a word. When a classroom becomes that quiet in response to a question, I sometimes have the strength to sit with the silence. So, I looked out the window and waited. I leaned back in my chair and waited. Finally, David said, “Something unforgiveable happened to me.”

    “What happened?” I asked him.

    “I was scrubbed into a vaginal hysterectomy. The patient was under general anesthesia. My attending was prepping the patient's vagina. He picked up a clamp holding sterile cotton balls and dipped them into Betadine. While he was cleansing and scrubbing her labia and inner thighs, he looked at me and said, ‘I bet she's enjoying this.' My attending winked at me and laughed.”

    Someone gasped. I stared at David. He shifted in his seat and crossed his arms on his chest. A splotchy red rash appeared on his neck. Staring down at the table, he murmured, “Man, I was just standing there trying to learn. The guy was a dirtball. It still pisses me off.”

    David glanced at me. I asked, “When your attending said that and laughed, did you laugh, too?”

    My question touched a nerve; perhaps my tone was accusatory. David snapped back, “Yeah, I laughed, but what was I supposed to do? Haveyouever been in a situation like that?”

    I looked down at the table in front of me and saw my black ballpoint pen. I focused on its gold clip for a moment. I placed my index finger and thumb beside the pen and spun it in place. It twirled and clicked as it spun around and around. I stared at the rotating pen and remembered. I felt my face flush. The spinning pen slowed, and then the clicking stopped. I looked up at David. “Yes, I have.”

    “So, what happened?” David asked.

    “It's my third year of medical school and I'm on Ob/Gyn. I deliver a baby girl and put her in the mother's arms. I can still remember the mom's name—Mrs. Lopez. I deliver the placenta, put it in a pan, and inspect it. It's intact. Then, I turn back to Mrs. Lopez. I see blood gushing from her vagina. It comes in waves. I've never seen anything like it. I yell to my resident—the guy's name is Dr. Canby—'Hey, something's wrong. She's really bleeding over here.' He shoulders me out of the way and checks her perineum for a laceration. There is none. He puts his hand on her abdomen and aggressively massages her uterus. She keeps bleeding. Then Dr. Canby says, ‘She's got uterine atony. Start oxytocin and call anesthesia.' A nurse lifts the baby off the patient's chest.”

    “A few moments later, the anesthesiologist walks in the room and asks, ‘What do you got?' Dr. Canby says, ‘Vaginal delivery. Uterine atony. External massage failed. Give her some ketamine.'”

    “Anyway, so I hear the anesthesiologist say, ‘Ketamine is in.' I look at Mrs. Lopez—her eyes are half-closed and vacant. Dr. Canby instructs me to hold her knee. A fellow medical student holds her other knee. Our job is to keep her legs spread. Canby then performs an internal bimanual uterine massage. He places his left hand inside her vagina, makes a fist, and presses it against her uterus. I look down and see only his wrist; his entire hand is inside her. Canby puts his right hand on her abdomen and then massages her uterus between his hands. After a few minutes, he feels the uterus contract and harden. He says something like, ‘Atta girl. That's what I like. A nice, tight uterus.' And the bleeding stops. The guy saved her life. I was blown away.”

    “But then something happened that I'll never forget. Dr. Canby raises his right hand into the air. He starts to sing ‘La Cucaracha.' He sings, ‘La Cucaracha, la cucaracha, dada, dada, dada-daaa.' It looks like he is dancing with her. He stomps his feet, twists his body, and waves his right arm above his head. All the while, he holds her, his whole hand still inside her vagina. He starts laughing. He keeps dancing. And then he looks at me. I begin to sway to his beat. My feet shuffle. I hum and laugh along with him. Moments later, the anesthesiologist yells, ‘Knock it off, assholes!' And we stop.”

    After I finish my story, I glance at the students; some gaze down at the table in front of them, while a few others look at me with blank stares. They are all quiet.

    I know this is my silence to break.

    Note:All names in this essay are pseudonyms
     
  9. FCMike11

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