News and Commentary Macy Foundation Reaffirms Our Values and Priorities

On behalf of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, I am writing to express my enduring support for those who are protesting peacefully across the United States, demanding an end to police violence and justice for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Michael Brown, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, and countless other victims, most of whose names we will never know.

The Macy Foundation aims to improve the health of the public by advancing the education of health professionals, and we recognize this is possible only by advancing equity for all. We further recognize that the culture of white supremacy and systemic racism that leads to police violence and mass incarceration infects all parts of our society, including health care and the clinical learning environments where our future health professionals work and learn. The majority of people in the health professions are White and have benefited from white privilege.

Patients of color experience the effects of longstanding social structures leading to health inequities and harmful bias in clinical care, causing dramatic differences in life expectancy, maternal and infant mortality, and more.

Future health professionals are also vulnerable. Black and Brown students with the intelligence, compassion, and grit to gain admission to medical, nursing, dental or pharmacy schools routinely encounter systemic barriers that reduce career satisfaction, limit advancement opportunities, and lead to psychological exhaustion and burnout.

The Macy Foundation has a long history of supporting initiatives focused on the Black community including providing support for the founding of the Morehouse School of Medicine and the National Medical Fellowships.

Today, we are committed to ensuring that equity, diversity, and belonging are at the center of health professions education. In fact, we have made this a focus of our work in our recently adopted strategic plan. Our first step was convening a conference in February 2020 on identifying harmful bias and eliminating discrimination in health professions learning environments. The proceedings of the conference and recommendations are forthcoming.

We recognize that much more is needed to support future health professionals, and The Macy Foundation aims to be part of the solution. We intend to further invest in this area and are eager to hear your proposals.

We also recognize that philanthropy has benefited from white privilege and power. As part of our commitment moving forward, we will take an honest look at ourselves and ensure that our programs, grants, systems, and practices align with our commitment to racial equity:

  • We will work harder to learn from Black, Indigenous, and other people of color in clinical learning environments, among our grantees, and on our staff.
  • We will ensure that the commitments expressed today are reflected in our grantmaking, staffing and recruitment policies, and operational decisions.
  • We will hold ourselves accountable and report back to our grantees, partners, and stakeholders on how we are making progress toward equity for all.

We recognize that our work on our new strategic plan is just beginning, and we are committed to stay the course. Progress is essential, for future health professionals, and ultimately for the health of our communities.

Holly J. Humphrey, MD

P.S. If you plan to participate in protests or rallies, please take precautions like physical distancing and wearing a mask to protect yourselves and your neighbors against exposure to COVID-19!

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