The last few months have seen a tremendous upheaval in our society, from the COVID-19 pandemic to, more recently, a mass movement to demand action in response to police brutality toward people of color. We as doctors are not immune from this upheaval. I am so proud of how all of you have responded to the pandemic – you have set the example for how Family Physicians are guardians and caretakers of our community. Responding to a pandemic is an obvious role for a doctor to play. Responding to racism is no less vital as a public health emergency. While we cannot solve racism on our own, we can take steps to make racism less prevalent, less hidden, and less destructive.
CAFP’s mission is to serve as the bold champion for Colorado’s family physicians, patients, and their communities. This moment is a time for us to have moral and ethical clarity on the racism affecting each one of those we serve.
CAFP does not just reject racism in its many forms but seeks to dismantle it – especially where it can intersect with Family Medicine. Our values are focused on achieving equal access to healthcare and equitable health outcomes, and dismantling the structures, systems, and biases that prevent both.
This is a difficult process, but we are committed to it for the long-term. As we develop a comprehensive approach to these challenges, we are implementing policies that can get us started, and we will strive to make healthcare more equitable and more accessible. These policies include diversifying the board, elevating healthcare equity champions, and addressing implicit bias.
Diversifying the board has been underway for some time now. I am proud of the progress we have made, but we know there is more to be done. We want to make sure that we are representing you, and that we are hearing from all the perspectives that make up our membership.
We are also seeking to identify and support health equity champions within Colorado. Some of you may have participated in a survey about this. The project is exploring how CAFP can continue to push for more equal access to care, and to reduce the disparity that marginalized communities in particular experience when they seek care.
Finally, we will be hosting an implicit bias training session at next year’s Annual Summit. Implicit bias is a complicated challenge to address because it requires no conscious thought to exist, yet it can have a profound effect on how marginalized communities experience care and, ultimately, on health outcomes. We take this challenge very seriously, and we want to make sure the resulting education is relevant, effective, and transformative. Addressing implicit bias is a process, not an event, so we will be doing follow up work to engage you in this journey.
These three endeavors are, of course, just the beginning of how CAFP, and Family Medicine as a whole, can begin to address structural and systemic racism. We are continuing our advocacy for policies that will expand health equity and access at the state capitol, as well, from telehealth to primary care investment. If you are interested in joining these advocacy efforts, consider signing up for Advocacy Insiders.
Every member voice is important, and as your representatives we want to ensure that we are accounting for your ideas, challenges, and needs. I hope you will join us on this journey so we can serve every community equally, fairly, and effectively.
John C. Cawley, MD, FAAFP
President of the Board
- AAFP’s Center for Diversity and Health Equity
- White Coats for Black Lives
- Ending Racism is Primary to Care: statement by Dr. David Bazzo, MD, FAAFP, CAFP President
- The EveryONE Project
- AAFP Policies on Health Equity Issues
- Center for Health Progress Equity Lab
- CDC Research on Social Determinants of Health
- HHS Office of Minority Health National Partnership to End Health Disparities Toolkit
Additional Recommended Reading