Rhodes College offers a distinctive approach to health equity education. Our curriculum is designed to equip healthcare providers with skills to create a culture of equity that reaches across all domains of the healthcare system. We aim to produce measurable reductions in the clinical determinants of health disparities (bias) through a deep awareness of the social determinants of health disparities.
Participants in our program will
- Understand how and why unjust social conditions cause illness and disease for stigmatized populations;
- Be able to identify and intervene in their own practice and with colleagues when bias leads to unequal care;
- Learn to practice equity-oriented, person-centered care that helps individuals seeking clinical services feel valued and welcomed;
- Learn how policy affects health and how to be an effective advocate for better policies.
We operate out of the following values:
- An asset-based perspective We seek out and celebrate the strengths of persons and communities, especially those who have been traditionally marginalized.
- An equity orientation We actively question our assumptions, identify our biases, and name our social locations.
- A collaborative spirit We reject competition as a model for developing excellence and embrace a team-based approach.
- An anti-racist approach We do not seek color blindness, but justice.
Expanded Description of Our Approach
We believe that the skills that healthcare providers need to meaningfully engage with diverse populations include:
- the capacity to recognize biomedicine as a culture,
- the ability to examine one's own social location and understand how it both opens and limits one's perspective,
- the creativity to enter imaginatively into the lived experience of health seekers (patients/clients) from backgrounds far different from one's own,
- the framework to think structurally about the conditions that produce health and disease, and
- the wisdom based upon best practices to advocate effectively for equity.
There is clear evidence that stereotypes can be reinforced when providers uncritically engage clients who are struggling economically, are members of racialized groups or are otherwise stigmatized. Our workshops, lectures, and courses provide a scaffolding that helps healthcare providers situate their individual clinical encounters with health seekers within a broader set of political, economic, and cultural systems that create unique healthcare assets and challenges. To do this, our curriculum integrates:
- a theoretical framework for understanding the relationship between social forces and health status,
- experiential opportunities to de-naturalize injustice and to contextualize patient experiences,
- reflective practices to make hidden curricula visible, and
- skills-based training for sustaining compassionate practices in challenging circumstances.
Developing a culture of equity requires cultivating skilled and compassionate providers who operate out of an equity orientation that shapes everything from how they interact one-on-one with underserved patients to how they evaluate patient safety concerns, from how they frame questions about healthcare system policies to how they approach ethically challenging situations. Simply put, we train our partners to integrate equity across the full scope of healthcare practice.