JANUARY 16, 2023 –
I hope to make the following points:
1) race is a sociopolitical category, not a biological one; 2) racism and racism-generated social determinants of health greatly impact health outcomes; 3) categories like “Black” do not capture the substantial cultural and genetic heterogeneity in African-descended subpopulations when used as a medical descriptor and, 4) using race as a proxy variable is both inappropriate and pathologizes race/ethnicity.
Although people with less formal education and fewer economic resources may have worse health overall, there are many “systemic” examples of how race was/is used in various calculations of medical risk, ie kidney GFR, VBAC, breast cancer, etc. that negatively influences health outcomes.
Michelle Terry, MD, is an attending physician and clinical professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. She is also the assistant dean for underrepresented in medicine and science in the Office of Faculty Affairs at the UW SoM, and the president of King County Medical Society. Terry received her BA from Stanford University, MD from Baylor College of Medicine, and trained in pediatrics at the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s residency program. She serves as a general medicine attending physician at Seattle Children’s and her clinical interests include medical education, medical regulation, and advocacy.