Building a culture of respect and inclusion at NOSM
“I get it all the time. Patients assume I’m there to take away their breakfast tray rather than in my role as their doctor,” says Dr. Naana Jumah, obstetrician-gynaecologist, Regional Cervical/Colposcopy Lead at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, NOSM Assistant Professor, and clinician researcher. She graduated with an MD from Harvard Medical School in 2008 and completed a five-year residency program in obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Toronto.
Anti-racism must start with a culture change. Dr. Jumah’s research, which led to the development of a new curriculum in postgraduate education across Canada called Hearing Our Voices: An Indigenous Women’s Reproductive Health Curriculum, indicates the importance of self-reflection and taking the time to become aware of one’s personal biases.
At the leadership and policy level, Dr. Jumah says it must be prioritized as an expectation. She recently participated in a conversation about equity, diversity and inclusion with NOSM’s Board of Directors. “We talked about diversity not being something that is surprising—it is what we expect. In 2021, we expect to see people with diverse perspectives involved in decision making, who are represented on boards and committees not just for the sake of representation. It isn’t just about their diversity. Rather, those individuals have recognized skills and expertise and should not just be represented on diversity committees,” says Dr. Jumah.
Rather than call people out, Dr. Jumah says it is more effective to call people in to encourage self-reflection and have them willingly participate in change. It starts with individuals. To be anti-racist is to address racism when it happens, whether it be in education or on the job.
“NOSM will advocate for intrapersonal, interpersonal, institutional, and systemic mechanisms that organize the distribution of power and resources differently across lines of race, gender, class, sexual orientation, gender expression, and other dimensions of individual and group identity.”
Dr. Sarita Verma, NOSM Dean,
President and CEO