Leading change from within: student-led reforms to advance anti-racism within medical education

Pamela Roach
Priatharsini Sivananthajothy
Tyler S. WarnockEmail
Whitney Ereyi-Osas
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Racism, physician biases against Indigenous, Black, and racialized people, and the resultant poor health outcomes have been the subject of many institutional position statements and calls to action. Across Canada, undergraduate medical education programs have recognized the importance of addressing racism, but material changes to curriculum and learning environments to incorporate anti-racist lenses have yet to be actualized. To bridge a gap seen within the curriculum, the authors of this manuscript led the co-development, organization, and implementation of a student-led anti-racism initiative at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine. The initiative consisted of a class-wide anti-racism training session and a strategic review of student governance policies, including elections and decision-making processes through an anti-racist lens to advance equity within student learning environments. Anti-racism praxis was embedded within the co-creation of the anti-racism training by incorporating cultural safety and ethical engagement principles along with paid consultations with racialized students and faculty to identify pertinent topics and inform training priorities. Through this initiative, the authors offer an approach for the larger medical community to consider in their own local efforts to advance anti-racism advocacy and curricular change. This initiative highlighted the unique role of students in disrupting the status quo and modeling an anti-racist lens in their actions and self-governance.


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