Racism is a critical social determinant of health. 1,3,4 Other forms of oppression, meaning the “interlocking forces that create and sustain injustice,”5 include forces such as sexism, ableism, heterosexism, xenophobia, weight bias, and gender normativity, among others. Social justice “refers to reconstructing society in accordance with principles of equity, recognition and inclusion… [and] involves eliminating injustice created when differences are sorted and ranked in a hierarchy that unequally confers power, social, and economic advantages, and institutional and cultural validity to social groups based on their location in that hierarchy.”5 Achieving social justice is crucial to achieving health equity, and requires disruption to many of our society’s current systems—including healthcare.
Our pediatric residents participate in a longitudinal curriculum on social justice, encompassing approximately 30 hours of formal content during conferences, and additional content integrated into rotations. Resources were cultivated from a variety of sources, both within and outside of the medical field—including the fields of education, social work, psychology; and national organizations such as the National Museum of African American History and Culture, California Newsreel, Just Health Action, the National Equity Project, and more. Sessions are heavily discussion based, facilitated by a diverse group of committed faculty and fellows. In addition to sessions for the residents, all of our program leadership and our Department Chair, along with a number of other faculty members, have also participated in the curriculum and we continue to disseminate the content throughout the Department. While the ultimate goal is to move toward a more just future, including achieving health equity for all patients and achieving a sense of belonging for all who work in our healthcare system, as a more proximate goal we focused this curriculum’s objectives on shifting learners’ knowledge, skills and attitudes.