AMEE COO, Scott Johnstone, attended the ICRE 2019 Conference in Ottawa last week and gives his thoughts on a plenary panel he attended.


The ICRE 2019 conference last week hosted a memorable and powerful conference plenary panel, “Trigger warning! ‘Political correctness’, free speech, inclusion, and diversity”. I (SJ) attended the debate where Maria Liz Montano Fernandez told her inspiring story as a trans woman, relating the acceptance she experienced in her home country of Mexico. The conversation also included some robust discussion about racial and sexual discrimination and the restrictions on talent and development such practices place on healthcare systems, which we already know to be overstretched. As a ‘middle aged white guy’ it prompted reflection on my relatively fortunate life experience.

The debate included actions being taken at a policy level as well as a more local level to support greater diversity, including steps that can be undertaken to improve diversity in medical schools. AMEE’s BEME Review No.50 on diversity was mentioned a few times during the debate. Entitled ‘What are the features of targeted or system-wide initiatives aimed at increasing diversity in health professions trainees?’ it identified that many changes in selection practices will improve diversity of acceptance. This, it could be argued, suggests that simply making the effort to alter selection methods to factor in more underrepresented minorities will by definition result in more underrepresented minorities being accepted.

Diversity has moved beyond being argued purely as a “political correctness” matter, to a necessary requirement for maximising talent and healthcare, as well as ensuring that communities can be served by representational health care professionals. In order to prevent stagnation and stunted growth of the field we should, as educators, all get behind initiatives to develop diversity. This can only benefit the stakeholders involved and strengthen medical education as a whole.

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