In a year of unprecedented challenges, the importance of educating ourselves about racism and how to be anti-racist has never been more evident. As physician-scientists in training, we have a responsibility to society to understand and adequately respond to this “double pandemic”. Inspired by like-minded students from Weill Cornell School of Medicine, Rockefeller University, and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Tri-Institutional Doctoral and Doctoral Program (Tri-I), we decided to create a magazine club to educate one another and discuss important issues related to social justice and the fight against racism. Our goal was to gain the knowledge necessary to understand the historical traumas suffered by communities of color in institutions of science and medicine, as well as the inherent distrust that exists in the medical community and how to dismantle it.
We also wanted to challenge each other to think about how to use our multifaceted roles as medical students and scientists, to address the problems that have led to worse health outcomes for communities of color. When designing the leadership format for our magazine club, we decided to use an empowered leadership approach. This allowed us all to participate in the initial planning, ensuring that the topics covered were of primary interest to all participants. Surveys were conducted through Google Forms both before and after our 5-week curriculum, aiming to understand our personal perspectives on cultural competence, racism, systemic racism, microaggressions, and more.
Fifteen students answered both surveys. We also discussed how we could use our magazine club as a “face-to-face” class should any government rulings threaten our visa status. We then explored opportunities for community participation presented by facilitators from WUSM Gateway curriculum. These opportunities allowed us to collaborate with local organizations and activists in St.
Louis in order achieve change and improve well-being and health while giving into their experience. Today, there is an urgent need to end both the COVID-19 pandemic and systemic racism. As future physician-scientists, this magazine club provides a fundamental component of our training to better defend our patients and pressure medical and scientific establishments to fight for racial equity. For decades, medical school students and administrators have advocated for a specific curriculum focused on social justice. Our magazine club serves as an example of how this can be achieved through empowered leadership, surveys, community participation, and more. We hope that our efforts will inspire others to take action against racism in their own communities.