Fall 2022

Members & Publications

How Continued Conversations on Challenging Topics Can Positively Impact Our Community



William Naber, D.O.
PGY1, PHiT Board and Membership Committee
University of Michigan Health System PM&R Program

As a hyperactive little redheaded boy, my parents knew putting me in year-round sports would be in everyone’s best interest. When winter sports registration rolled around, my parents signed me up for hockey rather than basketball, which was a smart move considering my mother is only 5 feet tall. From hockey, I learned how heavily leadership, culture, and relationships influence optimal teamwork towards group success. As my skillset on the ice grew, so did my passion for health, fitness, and subsequently, medicine. As my focus shifted from hockey sticks to stethoscopes, I took a position as an EMT and Patient Sitter at a local hospital. I quickly fell in love with how collaborative efforts between medical team “players” best achieved our shared goal of quality patient care. My new hospital roles also facilitated a lot of one-on-one patient time. From these patient discussions, I learned firsthand how greatly health disparities, social influencers of health (SIOH), and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) can influence patient care.

 With these lessons in mind, I stepped into medical school fully prepared to build the medical knowledge necessary to transition from student to provider. Some of the most impactful lectures on my career, however, revolved around SIOH, health disparities, and DEI. These lessons and related discussion with my peers inspired me to seek out ways to leverage my student leadership roles to foster further positive student education around topics like DEI, racial and cultural bias, and SIOH within our medical school community.

 While seeking guidance on how to focus this inspiration on a tangible goal, I was introduced to the article “Addressing Race, Culture, and Structural Inequality in Medical Education: A Guide for Revising Teaching Cases.”1 This article provides a straightforward tool to guide content experts on how to effectively implement race, culture, and structural inequality into teaching and testing patient cases. To me, this was the missing piece necessary to structure productive conversation and awareness about challenging topics in a learning environment. With faculty and student leader collaboration, we developed workshops so lecture content experts could effectively implement the review tool into our curriculum. Our goal was to ensure teaching cases be less impacted by implicit bias and appropriately stimulate awareness and discussion on these topics when intended, thus amplifying student learning both acutely and longitudinally.

 As I transitioned from pre-clinical rotations to clinical rotations, and subsequently residency, my passion for DEI/SIOH improvement and leadership has continued. With this drive, I was able to assist with the development and facilitation of Camp Osteo, a weekly mentorship program that provided high quality, cost-free MCAT prep and medical school application support to over 200 underrepresented minority pre-medical students. As a resident, I aim to continue this mission nationally as a member of PHiT and locally in my resident community.

 We as physicians are inherent leaders of the medical team. When we see patients, we can only help one person at a time. When we use our role as leaders to improve the culture and community around us, however, an individual action can create a ripple effect that impacts infinitely more people. The more we push positive conversations and policy improvement around these topics, the more we grow as a team and the more effectively and optimally we can address patient needs. I hope we can all take time to reflect on ways to use our position as leaders to advance our community and the treatment it provides to the patients we work so hard to care for.

 1.           Krishnan A, Rabinowitz M, Ziminsky A, Scott SM, Chretien KC. Addressing Race, Culture, and Structural Inequality in Medical Education: A Guide for Revising Teaching Cases. Academic Medicine. 2019;94(4):550-555. doi:10.1097/ACM.0000000000002589