NAO stands against racism and social injustice
Recent acts of injustice, racism, and discrimination have been traumatic and challenging for our nation. This injustice has touched us, and all humanity, in a deeply profound way. As an organization created to empower its members to achieve the Area Health Education Center (AHEC) mission through advocacy, education, and research, the National AHEC Organization (NAO) unequivocally condemns racism, injustice, and discrimination of any kind.
We are in the midst of both a medical crisis and a systemic crisis. Implicit bias and healthcare disparities have resulted in a broken healthcare system. Disproportionate numbers of underrepresented minorities suffer the ill-fated consequences of novel coronavirus (COVID 19-A), as well as higher rates of morbidity, mortality, and overall access to medical care. This harsh reality highlights the obvious. People of color do not receive equitable healthcare. Addressing these disparities has been an integral part of the AHEC mission from its inception; the pandemic has galvanized us to that calling.
As an organization, NAO works to change lives and communities. To provide compassionate, quality health resources to all is to advocate for black lives to matter. In this moment, we cannot remain silent. Today we ask, “How can we affirm that we are helping the most vulnerable among us?” Our response is rooted in our mission to serve, and our commitment to the following actions:
- Subtle forms of racial bias insidiously embed themselves in an organization’s hierarchy. NAO commits to continuous, unflinching examination of our own attitudes, prejudices, and actions, and to exposing any role they play in perpetuating structural racism and health disparities.
- Communities are stronger when the health of all people is valued. NAO will advocate for healthcare and educational policies that prioritize justice, access, and equity in the treatment of medically underserved and geographically isolated populations, racial minorities, and other disadvantaged groups.
- Healthcare providers trained in cultural competency are more effective at working with patients from diverse backgrounds and achieve higher levels of patient satisfaction and treatment success. NAO will enhance training for healthcare providers that demonstrates culturally competent attitudes and practices.
- An understanding of the impact cultural differences and social determinants have on patient care and health outcomes is a fundamental component of healthcare education. NAO works to recruit health professions students from diverse backgrounds and educate all health professions students on these concepts.
We as an organization rededicate ourselves to listening, serving, educating, training, and rendering care to those who need us most. We will emerge stronger together as we more fully live the truth of our mission.