Friday, April 4, 2014

It Never Quite Goes Away

I said before that I was going to delete this but I realized that was a bad idea. I was upset and rightfully so, but you have to pick yourself up and move on.

Today I went to an awards ceremony sponsored by my Center and It gave awards to various Black members of the health industry for their work in bettering the health of minorities (especially the black community. They ranged from CEOs to members of major pharmaceutical companies to former Surgeon Generals to Doctors, Lawyers and Pioneers in HIV/AIDs research and prevention.

While they were going through their bios and they each got on the stage to give a speech, I realized there was something missing from my life.  I was talking to someone I knew there and we both were thinking "OMG we need to get our lives together. I feel like I haven't done anything." We really felt like we had a lot of catching up to do, not realizing at the time that many of them were old enough to be our parents and grandparents (no offense to those lovely honorees..that looked great for their ages I might add.)

But there was a story that Dr. Benjamin, former Surgeon General said that stuck with me. She told of a case where she wasn't culturally competent despite them having the same skin tone. I realized that despite the data, journals, peer-reviewed articles, that I do not see the day-to-day issues of cultural competence that patients go through everyday. I work to help eliminate something that I have rarely witnessed first hand. I can rattle off stories, case-studies, and examples of culturally incompetent health workers, but I can't give a personal story.

I started to wonder as the night went on how I could do more. What am I not doing? What do I offer that could potentially make more of a difference in someone's life. While I don't know the answer to that, I think its a question I needed to ask.

We all want to think we're making a difference. But sometimes we fail to realize just how much work that can be or how to go about doing it. I think I am going to have to think long and hard about my next steps because no matter what I do, I know that I want to improve the health and quality of care for people of color.While we won't be minorities for long, our health indicators show we have a long way to go before we can truly have a healthy nation.