Home Medizin Anti-DEI-Petition löst Konflikt bei Nat'l Derm-Treffen aus

Anti-DEI-Petition löst Konflikt bei Nat'l Derm-Treffen aus

von NFI Redaktion

A resolution to abolish diversity efforts at the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) sparked intense controversy on the eve of the group’s annual conference in San Diego. The petition, submitted by dermatologist Brian Raphael, MD, from East Syracuse, New York, calls on the Academy to discontinue all of its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs, including scholarships and mentoring.

The petition argues that while the DEI work is „well-intentioned,“ it has evolved into a divisive political movement that suppresses free speech and „seems to promote division rather than unity.“ The resolution, signed by 92 physicians, also associates the DEI movement with antisemitism, although without providing details on how. Raphael did not respond to a request for comment via email.

In response, three AAD members prepared a counter-resolution, labeling the negative characterization of diversity efforts in the petition as „unfounded and accusatory.“ Over 6100 individuals have signed a corresponding petition on Change.org, expressing strong opposition to the goals of the anti-DEI document.

„Supporters of dismantling DEI have presented no evidence beyond personal opinions that DEI is not fulfilling its mission,“ wrote the authors of the resolution, Wendy Roberts, MD, FAAD, Jeanine Downie, MD, FAAD, and Heidi Waldorf, MD, FAAD.

The Academy’s leadership is expected to review the conflicting DEI resolutions today during the AAD conference, which runs until March 12, and hopes that the discussion remains civil. „While the national debate on race and diversity is often turbulent, the Academy remains steadfast in its commitment to the highest quality of patient care for all and the professionalism of all our members,“ the group stated in a press release.

The anti-DEI petition comes amidst growing resistance to diversity initiatives in all medical specialties, led by conservative groups and bolstered by last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision effectively ending affirmative action. An anti-affirmative action group named Do No Harm has sued organizations offering scholarships to aspiring doctors based on race or ethnicity. The group has also sued the Medical Board of California over the state’s mandatory implicit bias training for physicians.

Dermatology is the second least diverse specialty, with Black physicians making up 3.6% and Hispanic physicians 4.7% of dermatologists. Racial disparities persist in dermatology, with clinical research studies often excluding minority participants. Studies have consistently found that specialists diagnose melanomas and skin diseases less accurately in patients with darker skin compared to those with lighter skin. Clinical images may not accurately depict conditions in darker skin, leading to distorted research data and poorer outcomes for patients.

„I am a woman of color dealing with psoriasis and an autoimmune condition affecting my face, and I struggle to find a dermatologist who looks like me and truly knows how discolorations on my skin look,“ wrote Trecie Spencer from Washington, DC, on the Change.org petition.

„This is absurd as I live in one of the most culturally diverse areas in the country… and my city is over 80% Black,“ Spencer continued. „We need diversity and we need people with dark skin to understand, we need them to become dermatologists, and we need white doctors to understand brown skin from brown doctors, not from research conducted only on non-brown skin.“

As part of its DEI efforts, the AAD has committed to increasing diversity in its leadership levels and expanding mentoring programs for underrepresented students in medicine. „Regardless of what the American Academy of Dermatology decides, there will always be those among us who support and promote the recruitment of diverse trainees in the field of dermatology. We are here for you. We see you,“ wrote Roxana Daneshjou, MD, PhD, in a LinkedIn post.

„Every student I work with in the diversity mentoring program is more than excellent and talented. Yet many have heard comments from older individuals questioning if they belong in the field, or even having advisors tell them not to apply to dermatology,“ she commented on LinkedIn in response to a question. „There is a lot of racism in medicine and it keeps incredibly talented students away from dermatology. But that’s changing now, as students can leave their home institution and collaborate with mentors who want to advance their careers and believe in them. And it’s not difficult to believe in them because they are so talented.“

In a statement following the submission of the resolution, Raphael said, „I regret that this resolution was not received in the manner we intended, and that is why we are clarifying our stance. The original intent of the proposal has always been to work with our colleagues and the AAD to introduce a more integrative policy that promotes an end to racism and hate speech—and supports the equality and respect of all people, especially in the healthcare system. We fully support the existing diversity programs of AAD and are focusing on promoting inclusion and creating opportunities for all groups. We are working with the AAD to move towards a more integrative policy that recognizes the terrible rise of antisemitism and the need for protection against all forms of hate and discrimination.“

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