1. What is your advice for navigating difficult conversations or "difficult" patients?
Navigating difficult conversations and patients is a skill that truly requires self-awareness. First, acknowledge that you are wired to have an emotional connection to most encounters. The key is not to react from a place of emotion. Instead, consider the absolute and true conflict and stick to trying to first de-escalate and then problem solve. If you find your emotions have taken over, it is okay to pause and regroup.
2. What practices have you adopted to remain true to yourself while navigating medicine as an underrepresented minority?
I always start my day with prayer, meditation and affirmations of who I am and my purpose of being. I enter my workplace with gratitude, not for the job or the people, but for the opportunity to serve. This gratitude truly serves as a protective force when others may see or treat you like less than, because at the end of the day my reward comes from the very opportunity that allows me to serve. Sometimes that means creating my own opportunities to serve.
3. What are your thoughts on responding when you witness microaggressions/sexism/ageism?
Witnessing microaggressions and discrimination unfortunately are very common in the workplace. It never ceases to amaze me and continues to evoke anger. As said before, I acknowledge my emotion first and if I am directly involved, I will address it with a respectful tone to try and course correct the conversation. If I witness it, I try to support the person on the receiving end with recommendations on how they should proceed to rectify the situation. But the key is to expose it respectfully so that more awareness to this behavior does not become acceptable.
4. What is allyship and how can someone become an ally?
Allyship is when a group of people support and advance the efforts of another marginalized group of people. It remains important in society today on many levels. If you have been marginalized in any way, your self-esteem has been under attack and your voice tends to not be heard. Allyship becomes the “microphone,” so to speak, of the people who just are not being heard. It humanizes not only the people that have been under attack, but it also humanizes the issues beyond just empathy. There is a level of support when one can empathize, but allyship is the next step of taking some form of action.