Institute Partners with UMMC in First Race & Medicine Symposium
On June 20th, the Winter Institute partnered with the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) for the first Robert Q. Marston Symposium on Race and Medicine, titled “Fifty Years After Freedom Summer, Have Physicians Healed Themselves?”
The Marston symposium was the first event of its kind in Mississippi, and the invitation for the Institute to facilitate shows the trust that we’ve built up in our state in helping to build bridges of trust.
More than 150 UMMC faculty and community physicians, state health officials, medical students, and community members discussed the past, present, and future of race relations among Mississippi’s medical community. “We applaud UMMC,” said Portia Espy, Institute Community Building director and a symposium facilitator. “It shows that UMMC is committed to equality of opportunity in the medical profession and in patient care across the state of Mississippi.”
Attendees learned about the intersection of race and medicine, including the complex relationship between UMMC and Mississippi’s civil rights movement, the history of Mississippi’s black physicians, and the racial health disparities that continue in Mississippi–for instance, Mississippi has both white and black physicians’ associations.
Speakers and panelists encouraged attendees to reflect on the not so distant past, when black physicians held second-class status, and to examine the extent to which Mississippi and its physicians have healed those wounds today.
John Dittmer, renowned historian and author who documented the struggle of black physicians for social justice in the medical field, was keynote speaker. Dr. Susan Glisson, Winter Institute executive director, facilitated Welcome Table breakout groups that taught toolsets for improving communication and respect among physicians, patients, and the medical community.
The breakout groups included story circles, in which participants brought up who or what caused them to choose the medical profession. Following these sessions, symposium participants shared their thoughts, which speak to the importance of the Institute’s work:
“We are more alike than different. Racial differences in medicine are largely based on perception.”
“What if we could expand circles like this? We should tap into the talent and good will of the people.”
We are grateful to be expanding these effective circles, and promoting understanding, with your continued support.