Why is being an advocate so important to you?
My advocacy work centers primarily around racial justice. I recognize the privilege I have had throughout my life simply because of the color of my skin and I realize that others have had a much different path than me. I serve the North Minneapolis community, and the stories of strength and resilience from the community are awe-inspiring; however, the stories of constant trauma are overwhelming and devastating. If people within healthcare are able to engage at local, state, regional and national levels as advocates for racial and social justice, this will help North and similar communities. In addition, as the program director for the UMN North Memorial Family Medicine Residency program, I get to play a role in the journey for many new family medicine physicians; helping them find their own voice as advocates is very important to me.
What health-care related issue(s) have you advocated for over the past year?
Currently, my most active area is advocating to increase diversity within the healthcare workforce. Our patients, our communities, and our healthcare workforce will benefit in a multitude of ways if we have more people of color within our physician workforce. I've been honored to be the co-chair of the MMA Barriers to Workforce Diversification in Physician Education, Training and Licensure Task Force this year. This task force includes medical students (all people of color), fellows, representatives from the deans' offices of the medical schools in Minnesota, and community physicians. We are hearing directly from the students and fellows about the barriers for people of color that desire to become physicians, both on the road to medical school, as well as within medical school and residency. We will be taking action to break down some of those barriers.
What advice would you offer to others who are interested in advocacy?
Listen, educate yourself, then speak up and take action. There are opportunities all around you. Use your voice. You don't need to be an expert to get involved.