The Priority of Intersectionality in Academic Medicine

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Abstract

Recent societal events highlight inequities experienced by underrepresented and marginalized communities. These inequities are the impetus for ongoing efforts in academic medicine to create inclusive educational and patient care environments for diverse stakeholders. Frequently, approaches focus on singular populations or broad macroscopic concepts and do not always elucidate the complexities that arise at the intersection between multiple identities and life experiences. Intersectionality acknowledges multidimensional aspects of identity inclusive of historical, structural, and cultural factors. Understanding how multiple identity experiences impact different individuals, from patients to trainees to providers, is critical for improving health care education and delivery. Building on existing work within academic medicine, this Commentary outlines six key recommendations to advance intersectionality in academic medicine: embrace personal and collective loci of responsibility; examine and rectify unbalanced power dynamics; celebrate visibility and intersectional innovation; engage all stakeholders in the process of change; select and analyze meaningful metrics; and sustain the commitment to achieving health equity over time. Members of the academic medical community committed to advancing health equity can use these recommendations to promote and maintain meaningful changes that recognize and respond to the multidimensional voices and expressed needs of all individuals engaged in providing and receiving health care.

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