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Dr. Peter Cahn of the MGH Institute of Health Professions)

Dr. Peter Cahn (Photo: MGH Institute of Health Professions)

Interprofessional health symposium addresses systemic racism

May 19, 2021 — 

The Office of Interprofessional Collaboration (OIPC) at the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences held its fourth annual Communities and Collaboration Symposium on May 5, featuring an address on fighting systemic racism collectively in health care.

Dr. Peter Cahn of the MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston, Mass., delivered the keynote address. He was brought to the attention of the OIPC through his publication in the Journal of Interprofessional Care last year on how interprofessional collaboration can help dismantle systemic racism.

Nearly 80 faculty, staff and students attended Cahn’s address, which referred to the “twin pandemics of COVID-19 and structural racism,” which he said have revealed ways that people from marginalized groups continue to experience consistently worse health outcomes.

Kaleigh Warden, an instructor at the School of Dental Hygiene, Dr. Gerald Niznick College of Dentistry, said she found the presentation beneficial and that it could inspire more discussion within the curriculum.

“The Interprofessional nature of this event was particularly valuable as Dr. Cahn touched on how racism requires us to exert a coordinated and collaborative effort to even begin to comprehend its complexities. Interprofessional collaborative practice nicely lends itself to structural solutions,” she said.

“The more we acknowledge and shine a light on how pervasive racism is, the more apt we are to move forward in a way that seeks to dismantle racism in our health-care system and our communities.”

The keynote address was followed by an afternoon of poster presentations from across the five colleges in the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, as well as community partners.  

Meagan Wiebe of the Max Rady College of Medicine received the Community Impact Award for her project on a new multidisciplinary approach to lingual frenectomy for ankyloglossia treatment, a relatively common condition in newborns that restricts tongue movements and impacts the maintenance of breastfeeding.

Meagan Wiebe

Meagan Wiebe

Wiebe is currently a general surgery resident at Health Sciences Centre, working on the project with a collaborative group led by Dr. Melanie Morris.

“Our project is bringing awareness to this new technique that we developed in Winnipeg, together with a pediatric surgeon and family doctors with lactation specialization, combining to provide treatment to affected families and infants,” Weibe said.

“Traditionally the procedure is performed by a sole health-care provider, whereas our focus is on the integrated preoperative and postoperative aspects, in addition to providing a surgical treatment that offers improved pain control and a decreased bleeding risk.”

Two pairs of students from the Max Rady College of Medicine also won the Alan Klass Memorial Award for Health Equity for their projects: Arielle Bieniek and Emma Gervin for their beading table project, and Sheralin Spring and Phillip Snarr for their project on cystic fibrosis.

“The OIPC was extremely pleased with the diversity and quality of all presentations. Despite the virtual environment, all presenters engaged with the audience and their passion came across loud and clear,” said OIPC director Dr. Moni Fricke.

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