FSMB Statement on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Medical Regulation and Health Care
WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 15, 2021) – The Federation of State Medical Boards’ Board of Directors released the following statement affirming its commitment to supporting an equitable health care system:
“Systemic racism and structural inequities are embedded in the American health care system and have given rise to a public health crisis. This is evidenced by alarming disparities in access to health care providers and resources, treatment and outcomes. The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) is committed to supporting an equitable health care system.
These unjust aspects of our healthcare system have existed for centuries but receive periodic attention when the most grievous of inequities are brought to light by instances of inhumane treatment, severely disproportionate outcomes, racially motivated crimes, or public health emergencies. As long as structural and systemic inequities exist in society, they threaten medicine, health care and medical regulation. Yet, realizing a just health care system requires more than periodic attention. Sustained action across society is needed to address and rectify structural inequities and systemic racism. Acknowledging and understanding inequities in access to quality health care in America and working to achieve health equity through diversity and meaningful inclusion are fundamental to caring for the public we serve. Greater diversity in the health care workforce, as studies in the medical literature indicate, improves patient experiences and outcomes.
The FSMB’s mission involves supporting state medical boards in their efforts to ensure safety for all patients. We acknowledge our role in a system that has allowed racist, biased, and inequitable influences to hinder that safety and harm patients, and we commit to identifying, addressing, and dismantling those influences. Fundamental to this role is the maintenance and strengthening of public trust in the practice of medicine and in professional self-regulation. For the FSMB and its member boards, ensuring diversity, equity and inclusion means maintaining a dual focus on our own policies and procedures to promote equity and eliminate systemic inequities, as well as ensuring that the care provided by licensed physicians, physician assistants and other health care professionals is equitable and not influenced by bias based on race, ethnicity or other forms of discrimination.
We support education about cultural safety throughout all stages of medical training and practice. We also support organizational change to ensure diversity, inclusivity and fair representation on state medical boards and in board staff that is reflective of the licensee and patient populations. This will require concerted effort to better engage with communities, especially ones that have been historically underrepresented, marginalized, intentionally mistreated and harmed, and unjustly treated, to promote their inclusion in medical regulation through a deeper understanding of the role of state medical boards.
In the past year, the FSMB has taken initial steps to address these issues by prioritizing discussion of health equity at meetings of our board governance. We hosted an educational webinar for our member boards addressing bias and, in January of 2021, a Symposium on Health Equity and Medical Regulation that included an array of experts in medical practice, government, academia, and advocacy. We will leverage the expertise of our partners in the international community and continue to value and learn from the experiences they generously share.
We recognize that effectively addressing systemic racism and inequity requires ongoing action on multiple fronts. This is why we appointed the Task Force on Health Equity and Medical Regulation, to provide guidance and direction as we develop and sustain a lasting commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
The FSMB views diversity in all its forms as a strength and asset in combatting the unjust and racist elements in our healthcare system.”
About the Federation of State Medical Boards:
The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) is a national non-profit organization representing the 71 medical boards within the United States and its territories that license and discipline allopathic and osteopathic physicians and, in some jurisdictions, other health care professionals. The FSMB serves as the voice for state medical boards, supporting them through education, assessment, research and advocacy while providing services and initiatives that promote patient safety, quality health care and regulatory best practices. The FSMB serves the public through Docinfo.org, a free physician search tool which provides background information on the nearly 1 million doctors in the United States. To learn more about FSMB, visit www.fsmb.org. and follow FSMB on Twitter (@theFSMB).