WHEREAS,    MSV Policy 05.4.01 states, “The Medical Society of Virginia believes that all citizens of Virginia should have access to medical services without discrimination based on race, religion, age, social status, income, sexual orientation or perceived gender”, and

WHEREAS,  Racial and ethnic minorities experience a wide variety and multitude of health and healthcare disparities, and many of these disparities have widened over past decades (1); and

WHEREAS,  African Americans and Hispanics in Virginia were significantly more likely to report unsafe neighborhoods, and research has associated perceived unsafe neighborhoods with poorer physical health, mental health, and reduced social connections (2); and

WHEREAS,  There is strong evidence for poor health among socioeconomically disadvantaged, racial, and ethnic minority populations in Virginia, and African Americans in Virginia live 3-5 fewer years than Whites on average (2); and

WHEREAS,  The higher mortality and infection rates seen in communities of color during the COVID pandemic has drawn attention to these disparities nationally and locally (3); and

WHEREAS,  The reporting of race during the collection of COVID-19 data in Virginia has been partial and inconsistent, thereby making it difficult to estimate the true impact of the pandemic on communities of color within the state (4);

WHEREAS,  Many states have established health equity task forces within state health departments to identify vulnerable populations and address the health disparities underpinning the susceptibility of these communities to COVID (5)[i];

RESOLVED, that the Medical Society of Virginia amend Policy 05.4.01 to the following:

The Medical Society of Virginia believes that all citizens of Virginia should have access to medical services without discrimination based on race, religion, age, social status, income, sexual orientation or perceived gender, and be it further resolved

That the MSV recognizes racial and ethnic health disparities as a major public health problem and that racial and ethnic bias or personal prejudice is a barrier to effective medical diagnosis and treatment. The MSV affirms strategic interventions to bolster the health of marginalized populations adversely affected by racial, ethnic, or cultural prejudice in the healthcare system.


i1. National Center for Health Statistics (US. “Health, United States, 2015: With special feature on racial and ethnic health disparities.” (2016).

2. Virginia Department of Health, 2012. Virginia Health Equity Report 2012. Richmond.

3. 2020 The Covid Tracking Project. Racial Data Dashboard. CovidTracking.com

4. Yancy CW. COVID-19 and African Americans. JAMA. 2020;323(19):1891–1892. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.6548

5. National Academy for State Health Policy. (July 2020). How States Collect Data, Report, and Act on COVID-19 Racial and Ethnic Disparities. Retrieved from: https://www.nashp.org/how-states-report-covid-19-data-by-race-and-ethnicity/#tab-id-3


5 replies
  1. msv30330
    msv30330 says:


    Policy 05.4.01 is wonderfully broad and inclusive.

    I disagree with the amendment, as it has the underlying assumption that we are biased, prejudiced, or however hateful.

    The presumption that we are all prejudiced is flawed.  The authors can speak for themselves, and make good faith efforts to correct thier own biases, but to speak for others painting with the same broad brush, assuming that they know how we feel about others by the way we look or what we do, is in itself prejudiced.

    I recommend to not adopt.

  2. mwv5np@virginia.edu
    [email protected] says:


    This resolution seems like something that we should support without question or controversy. It provides appropriate evidence and is simply asking that we: 
    – Recognize that racial and health disparities are a public health concern

    – Recognize that racial biases are barriers to healthcare treatment. 

    -Support efforts to improve the health of populations that have historically been marginalized.

    Our mission statement states that we “strive to advance high-quality care.” To me, it seems like supporting this resolution is directly in line with that mission.  

    TMOFFATT says:

    The addendum seems to be

    The addendum seems to be nothing more than a restatement of 5.4.01.

    This resolution seems only the self-flagellation required by Robin DiAngelo (“White Fragility”) who opines that all mostly white organizations (and indeed all white people) in America are by definition racist – and probably sexist too if there is a male majority.

    I comment on the absurdity and pedantic nature of the rubric”community of color” elsewhere.

  4. abulthuis@liberty.edu
    [email protected] says:

    Testimony in support of this resolution

    This testimony was written on behalf of the Medical Student Section. 

    Multiple studies have shown racial disparities in the healthcare delivery system of the United States. These disparities in care result in higher mortality as well as higher rates of chronic disease in racial and ethnic minority patients. The trauma caused by the effects of racism in a person’s life course is associated with chronic stress, higher rates of comorbidities and lower life expectancy, all of which require extensive care and place a preventable economic burden on our healthcare system.

    The Virginia State Health Commissioner, Dr. Norman Oliver, has done extensive work on the persistent false beliefs of biological differences between those of African and European descent and has written numerous research articles showing evidence that this has contributed to differential pain management.(1)

    These same persistent beliefs in the biological differences between blacks and whites have been found, more recently, among medical students.(1) For the past 5 years, multiple medical schools have addressed this, including Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, Drexel University College of Medicine, Geisinger Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, and Temple University Lewis Katz School of Medicine. These schools have organized a conference, Racism in Medicine, which facilitates discussions on how physicians can combat race based disparities in medical care.(2)

    Multiple studies have shown disparate outcomes in the mortality rates of Black vs White babies. One such study was published on September 1st in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and showed that when cared for by White physicians, Black newborns were about three times more likely to die in the hospital than White newborns. That disparity dropped significantly when the physician was Black, although Black newborns nonetheless remained more likely than White newborns to die.(3)

    In 2018 the AMA passed a policy that recognized the larger social and economic arrangements that put individuals and populations in harm’s way, leading to both premature illness and death.(4) At the 2020 AMA Special meeting, the AMA Board of Trustees pledged action to combat systemic racism and police brutality.(5) The AMA recognizes that racism in its systemic, structural, institutional, and interpersonal forms is an urgent threat to public health, the advancement of health equity, and a barrier to excellence in the delivery of medical care. Likewise, the American College of Physicians has stated that racism is a public health issue that calls for action from medical societies.(6) The American Academy of Family Physicians has stated that they oppose all forms of institutional racism and support family physicians to actively work to dismantle racist and discriminatory practices and policies in their organizations and communities.(7) Lastly, the American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that racism has a profound effect on the health of children and adolescents and should thus be addressed by their organisation as well as their individual members.(8)  

    Given these realities of existing AMA, ACP, AAFP, and AAP precedent and a growing body of evidence, the Medical Student Section believes it is appropriate that we support this resolution  to amend policy 05.4.01 to recognize racial and ethnic health disparities as a major public health problem and to support provisions for addressing these problems.


    (1) Racial bias in pain assessment and treatment recommendations, and false beliefs about biological differences between blacks and whites. (19, April). PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4843483/?tool=pmcentrez&report=abstract

    (2) Recognizing racism in medicine: A student-organized and community-engaged health professional conference. (n.d.). PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6689186/

    (3)  Physician–patient racial concordance and disparities in birthing mortality for newborns. (2020, September 1). PNAS. https://www.pnas.org/content/117/35/21194

    (4)  Policy finder. (n.d.). Policy Finder | AMA. https://policysearch.ama-assn.org/policyfinder/detail/violence%20?uri=%2FAMADoc%2FHOD-515.955.xml

    (5)  AMA board of trustees pledges action against racism, police brutality. (n.d.). American Medical Association. https://www.ama-assn.org/press-center/ama-statements/ama-board-trustees-pledges-action-against-racism-police-brutality

    (6) ACP releases new policy statement addressing racism, discrimination and police violence. (n.d.). American College of Physicians | Internal Medicine | ACP. https://www.acponline.org/advocacy/acp-advocate/archive/june-22-2020/acp-releases-new-policy-statement-addressing-racism-discrimination-and-police-violence?utm_campaign=FY19-20_NEWS_ACPADVOCATE_062220_EML&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua

    (7) Institutional racism in the health care system. (n.d.). AAFP American Academy of Family Physicians. https://www.aafp.org/about/policies/all/institutional-racism.html

    (8) The impact of racism on child and adolescent health. (2019, August 1). American Academy of Pediatrics. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/144/2/e20191765

    • msv30330
      msv30330 says:


      As with the other “amendment”, the supposition is that our current policy is somehow biased, racist, hateful, etc.

      Far from the truth.

      Our policy supports what you propose.

      The amendment adds nothing.

      Recommend to reaffirm current policy.

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