Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation President Holly J. Humphrey, MD, MACP, reflects on this unprecedented year and describes the important work the foundation is doing to address harmful bias and eliminate discrimination within clinical learning environments.
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The Macy Foundation released a new strategic plan in early 2020, with the goal of improving outcomes for patients, health care professionals, and the communities they serve. The 10-year plan establishes three core priorities: promoting diversity, equity, and belonging; increasing collaboration among future health professionals; and preparing future health professionals to navigate ethical dilemmas. Holly Humphrey outlined the strategic plan in a March blog post for Health Affairs.
The Macy Foundation invited 44 of the nation’s leading health equity experts to a February conference to explore strategies for eliminating bias and discrimination. Participants developed a strong set of recommendations, including promoting cultural change at educational institutions; integrating equity into the curriculum; and increasing the numbers of students, faculty, and administrators from historically marginalized communities. A summary of the conference recommendations is available online, and papers commissioned for the convening were published in a special supplement of Academic Medicine in December.
2020 will forever be remembered as the year of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 350,000 Americans died from the disease, including more than 1,000 health professionals. The pandemic also disrupted health professionals' education, cancelling clinical rotations and eliminating most in-person instruction. Throughout this difficult year, the Macy Foundation worked closely with health education leaders to keep training moving forward. We also supported advanced simulation exercises that enabled health learners to accelerate team-based clinical learning when they couldn’t be together physically. Even after the pandemic ends, we expect these distance learning advances to benefit learners, teachers, and the communities they serve.
The COVID-19 pandemic—coupled with this summer’s Black Lives Matter protests—shined a bright light on systemic inequities that impact the quality and longevity of life in communities of color. The Macy Foundation has a long history of promoting diversity in health professions education, and we publicly reaffirmed our commitment to racial equity at the height of this summer’s protest movement. We also pledged to take an honest look at ourselves and ensure that Foundation programs, grants, systems, and practices align with our principles and our commitment to racial equity.
In the 10th year of the Macy Faculty Scholars program, the Foundation recognized five outstanding medical and nursing educators bringing positive change to their learning institutions. The 2020 Macy Faculty Scholars are working on initiatives to advance health equity, help students navigate uncertain environments where ethical dilemmas may emerge, promote interprofessional teamwork, and much more. Read more about Macy Faculty Scholars.
2020 marked the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment and the 160th anniversary of Florence Nightingale opening the world’s first nursing school. Today, women hold more than 75% of jobs in the health care workforce but remain underrepresented at the highest levels of academic leadership. The Macy Foundation reflected on its history of advancing women in health care and suggested several ways to make progress in this milestone year, emphasizing changes to institutional cultures to support women leaders and adopting policies to help women overcome the obstacles that often limit career advancement opportunities.
In 2020, we invested more than $3.2 million in projects to support the advancement of health professions education. This included grants to 32 institutions and five new Macy Faculty Scholars.
Our grants portfolio included projects that spanned across all of our core priority areas.