This week was action-packed. One of the tasks I was charged with was hosting a conversation with Nationwide Children’s Hospital (NCH) physician residents. On occasion, the BGCC will host conversations with NCH residents with the purpose of broadening their understanding of the resources available in the Columbus community. Since my supervisor at the BGCC understands that I am more than equip to have conversations surrounding cultural competence, he was more than happy to allow me to lead the discussion.
I met the residents at the South Side Club. After I gave them the tour of the facilities, we sat down and introduced ourselves. After introductions I gave them some statistics surrounding the many barriers for youth in our community. For example, only 12% of youth in Franklin County are a part of after-school programming. They had excellent questions and were genuinely interested in trying to find ways they can make a difference as physicians.
This atmosphere of curiosity lead us to start to talk about the challenges they have experience working with vulnerable populations of youth. One of the residents brought up that parents seem to “not care.” As an educator, I heard this label placed on parents before.
In order to get the residents talking a little, I asked, “How did you know the parents did not care?”
The person who made the comment stated that parents of color are often on the phone and seem uninterested. We all proceeded to discover alternative causes to uninterested behavior besides they “don’t care.” For example, the parent could be worried about what the family is going to eat that night or they might have other health concerns.
We had a brief conversation about the historical context of the health system and how this context justifies Black American’s distrust of physicians. Moreover, we talked about how physicians can gain the trust of patients or guardians. One suggestion I had was to be clear with parents that the physician believes the parent is the expert of their child’s health. This means going beyond collecting a questionnaire. Physicians should go above and beyond to have verbal communication with parents, empowering them to partner with the physicians to maximize the health of the child.
At the end of the conversation we had fostered mutually understanding. As a person of color, I myself am very skeptical of doctors. However, meeting with the NCH residents gave me hope for the future of the healthcare system.