Social Justice: Talking With a Purpose

Michael Okoronkwo (L2) 


Social Justice Picture
Katherine Davidson (Class of 2019) and Michael Okoronkwo (Class of 2019) lead the discussion at a recent Social Justice lunch time Table Talk.

The expectation to address psychosocial factors influencing patient health status has always been a model within the culture of healthcare. Such commitment in recognizing this virtue as a fundamental tool in the goal of patient care is honorable.  Reflecting upon this mission in medicine, students from LOCUS, APAMSA, SNMA, and LMSA were inspired to create a community of open and honest dialogue aimed at fostering humanistic development for our growth not only as future physicians, but as future leaders. The collective voice of these students, and the audience which engages with us at our Table Talk lunch series, are passionate about moving the vision of equity, selflessness, and compassion in the approach to healthcare forward.  These goals are not lifeless themes that have evolved to a cliché in the hearts of us, but rather a responsibility to foster.

The role of a physician inherently draws the platform of influence given by our community. We are aware of such, and want to ensure that this influence is morally potent and empowering for our future patients and community at large. At our talks, we seek to invoke conversations that stimulate conscientious development for the student through group discussion.

In order to grow as future physicians and help strengthen the capacity and impact of our patient interaction, we confront and bring to the table of discussion common challenges that threaten the integrity of the doctor-patient relationship.  We acknowledge that many of these threats branch from the core of implicit bias.  We agree that all of us have them. However, we also agree that the weakness is not having implicit bias, but rather the weakness is ignoring the internal truth that we have them as we enter a profession where dedication to human service is our enduring responsibility.

Implicit bias in patient care can manifest in the form of gender, race, ethnic, or sexual identity bias.  By having a very diverse student population within our Table Talk series, we are able to share perspectives and gain insight about cultural values, norms, and differences shared by our diverse audience. These sessions result in transformative personal growth as we together make a step forward in cultural competency and human understanding.

The leaders from LOCUS, APAMSA, SNMA, and LMSA have opened an additional door of resource for students to think, discuss, and learn of ways in which we can be more of an asset to our future patient population beyond the clinical perspective.  These leaders have created the Table Talk series as a setting where the compassion of the human heart is the guide of discussion, as we recognize the moral obligation we have to our patients and community.