Background

Equity and diversity in medicine are the subject of an important, ongoing discussion for medical professionals and patients. Greater equity and diversity in the medical workforce will improve system adaptation and patient care, but many barriers need to be addressed for the profession to move forward.

To better understand and address these barriers, the CMA launched a conversation with CMA members and stakeholders on equity and diversity in medicine in January 2019.

Members and stakeholders were encouraged to ponder questions such as:

  • In your opinion, what are the most prominent issues or challenges related to equity and diversity facing the medical profession?
  • What actions or solutions, big or small, might lead us toward a more equitable and diverse future for the medical profession?
  • How can an increasingly diverse profession positively affect patients?
  • What role should the CMA play in improving equity and diversity to support you as a member?

Since receiving and reviewing feedback, the CMA has developed a draft policy on equity and diversity in medicine to promote increased equity and diversity in medicine and to foster a more collaborative and respectful professional culture. By developing this policy, the CMA aims to identify a set of guiding principles and commitments to achieve these goals. It provides support for the view that improving circumstances and opportunities for physicians and learners is essential in creating a more equitable and sustainable culture and practice of medicine.

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Defining equity and diversity

Equity refers to the treatment of people that recognizes and accommodates their differences. Equity relates to the opportunities of any given person, with their own identity, culture and characteristics, to create and sustain a career or to receive medical care without discrimination, harassment or cultural- or characteristic-related negative bias.

Diversity includes those (observable and non-observable) characteristics that are constructed — and sometimes chosen — by individuals, groups and societies to identify themselves (e.g., age, culture, language, gender, sexuality, health, cognitive abilities, socioeconomic status) in different contexts and that may describe them in relation to others in those contexts. It describes them in relation to other people (e.g., age, socioeconomic status, geographic location, health).

Feedback options

The consultation period for reviewing the draft policy closed on Nov. 18, 2019. Thank you to all stakeholders who shared their thoughts. 

Parents
  • I applaud this policy. It is a good start. As a Black female physician, I know how deep systemic racism runs in this country (as confirmed by the United Nations), which traces back to our violent history as a nation and persists within our institutions, including healthcare. But I truly believe we are in a season of meaningful, positive change. I read most of the comments here, and I'm trying to understand the different perspectives on this, especially those that I do not agree with.

    But my main message is to all the young people - medical students, residents, fellows, who I found out have read some of the comments here, and are feeling afraid, excluded, or frustrated by some of the comments here. I am speaking to both those who feel marginalized, and those who are in their own journeys to be allies. I'm sure that these are trainees who are going to be major players in the future of medicine, and some of the comments hit them hard. If the description above resonates with you please know:
    This policy is a great first step. The road to collective understanding will be long. Try not to be discouraged by those who do not know what it is to prepare for, study and thrive in medicine while being part of a community that exists in the margins. You have a voice, and you are amazing to have been able to come this far. Remember, there are so many of us older physicians, who applaud you and celebrate you!
    Whether you have experienced inequities due to indigeneity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or identity, ability, socioeconomic background, or any other identity that makes you feel "othered", please know that the future is bright... and DIVERSE!
    Be bold, be proud, stay connected, and have faith that we are all headed together, as a profession, in a good direction, that will make us more compassionate to ourselves, each other, and our patients!
Comment
  • I applaud this policy. It is a good start. As a Black female physician, I know how deep systemic racism runs in this country (as confirmed by the United Nations), which traces back to our violent history as a nation and persists within our institutions, including healthcare. But I truly believe we are in a season of meaningful, positive change. I read most of the comments here, and I'm trying to understand the different perspectives on this, especially those that I do not agree with.

    But my main message is to all the young people - medical students, residents, fellows, who I found out have read some of the comments here, and are feeling afraid, excluded, or frustrated by some of the comments here. I am speaking to both those who feel marginalized, and those who are in their own journeys to be allies. I'm sure that these are trainees who are going to be major players in the future of medicine, and some of the comments hit them hard. If the description above resonates with you please know:
    This policy is a great first step. The road to collective understanding will be long. Try not to be discouraged by those who do not know what it is to prepare for, study and thrive in medicine while being part of a community that exists in the margins. You have a voice, and you are amazing to have been able to come this far. Remember, there are so many of us older physicians, who applaud you and celebrate you!
    Whether you have experienced inequities due to indigeneity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or identity, ability, socioeconomic background, or any other identity that makes you feel "othered", please know that the future is bright... and DIVERSE!
    Be bold, be proud, stay connected, and have faith that we are all headed together, as a profession, in a good direction, that will make us more compassionate to ourselves, each other, and our patients!
Children
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