WATSON: Yes, wokeness is lowering the quality of North Carolina’s health care 

The Old Well on the campus of The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Patients expect doctors to rely on their training — not their politics — when offering care. Patients may be surprised to find out that at the University of North Carolina Medical School, medical training seems to have taken a back seat to political activism. 

The UNC Medical School is moving to implement social justice in its medical curriculum through the “Task Force to Integrate Social Justice.” The task force was established in 2020 in response to an initiative by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) to include social justice education at medical schools throughout America. Support for the task force has been reaffirmed as recently as March 2022. 

The Task Force report is a laundry list of political demands masquerading as medical care. One section urges UNC faculty to “develop curriculum for core education training sessions,” including training on “implicit bias” and the history of “racial discrimination” in the American medical system. 

The report justifies such measures by claiming that racism should be acknowledged as a “public health emergency” and principles of so-called “anti-racism” — made famous by figures such as Ibrahim X. Kendi — should be implemented into the institution as well. To leave no doubt of UNC’s commitment to social justice, the task force also recommends that they hire a School of Medicine counselor with “expertise and interests in diversity and inclusion.” 

UNC’s mandated curriculum is even more blatantly political. One required textbook teaches medical students to see social determinants of health through the “intersectional studies of health disparity and inequality, disability, science and technology, sexualities, narrative in medicine, gender identity and expression, race and ethnicity, and disability.” 

In other words, this textbook argues that intersectionality — an ideology that assumes certain groups are more oppressed than others — is important for learning the causes of certain diseases. 

What will happen when doctors begin evaluating the worth of their patients based on their supposed oppressed category? 

A doctor cannot truly assess a patient’s health on the basis of their race or other characteristics; they must evaluate their individual health condition. The true problem of intersectionality in medicine is that it collectivizes medical decision-making. Doctors are trained to care for groups rather than individuals. 

Intersectionality also undermines the proper role of a doctor. 

Doctors are not called to deal with all of society’s issues. They are medical professionals who are typically specialized and trained in a certain specialty. When doctors start becoming political activists instead of medical care providers, they can no longer focus on their actual job. 

Being a doctor is hard enough. Keeping up with the ever-changing demands of the woke culture should not be an added requirement. 

North Carolina, on the whole, is not a healthy state. CDC data shows North Carolina has an above-average obesity rate. Compared to the U.S. median, North Carolina has a higher percentage of adults struggling with diabetes. North Carolina has above-average death rates for Alzheimer’s, drug overdoses and cancer. The Wellbeing Index, managed by Boston University, ranks North Carolina 37th out of 50 states. The hospital system in North Carolina has historically suffered from lawsuits from individuals and the federal government alike.  

North Carolina is rife with issues that impact patient care. And social justice will not address any of these issues.  

UNC is a public institution. It receives support from local and federal tax dollars alike. Its medical school should be focused on developing the most talented and qualified doctors possible, but instead, it’s focused on social justice. 

Perhaps UNC knows this is wrong. It appears to have recently scrubbed any mentions of its social justice task force from its website. Maybe that is a tacit acknowledgment that the university knows the people of North Carolina prefer better health care rather than a generation of woke doctors treating patients by race. 

But there’s no need to stop. Much like the website, woke diversity, equity and inclusion principles should be scrubbed from the medical school altogether. 

Christian Watson is spokesman for Color Us United (colorusunited.org).