Be Wary of Compelled Speech in Medicine - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Be Wary of Compelled Speech in Medicine
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A recent study revealed that 72 percent of leading medical schools in the United States probe applicants for their views and experiences related to “diversity, equity, and inclusion.” This study was published soon after an 86-page American Medical Association strategic document on diversity pushed the progressive ideological view on “diversity, equity, and inclusion” as morally just.

Trust in public health officials is at an all-time low because of their handling of the pandemic. Medical education’s integration of wokeness into its admissions process and culture borders on compelled speech and will further undermine the credibility of physicians in the United States.

It’s becoming pervasive. The Kentucky Board of Nursing is requiring implicit bias training as a condition of continued licensing. Medical students at the University of Minnesota are pledging to recognize the perpetuation of structural violence embedded within the health care system. (READ MORE: US Medical Licensing Exam Gets a Woke Makeover)

This doesn’t make sense.

I practice neurosurgery at an Alabama Level 1 Trauma Center safety net hospital. Part of our mission is that we take care of all patients regardless of their ability to pay. I cannot fathom actually implementing the recommendations put forth in the diversity plan the American Medical Association put out with the Center for Health Justice.

The document suggests that I describe patients with a lower income as “People underpaid and forced into poverty as a result of banking policies, real estate developers gentrifying neighborhoods, and corporations weakening the power of labor movements, among others.”

If I ever talked like that, I would be laughed out of the exam room. I wouldn’t be taken seriously, and neither would any relevant advice I may have to offer my patient.

I understand what the document is trying to do: illustrate unique challenges faced by different patient populations (as they collectively describe them). However, the document reads like the insipid progressive student union manifesto of “with us or against us.”

The other option is to treat patients with respect and as individual human beings. The DEI document of course attacks the concept of individualism in medicine as essentially morally wrong. I cannot think of anything more fundamentally reckless for both a physician and patient than removing responsibility for an individual’s specific actions and assigning blame to the collective.

By assigning moral standing and incorporating collective virtue signaling into admissions, organized medicine is intentionally leaving no room for debate around solutions. This groupthink and compelled moralism are much more dangerous in medicine than in the sociology department.

Science and medicine need people to ask tough questions that attack both the accepted norms of science and the philosophical principles potentially underwritten by the contemporary politics of either ideology. This ripe inquisition and test of truth are what separates science from other disciplines. That mindset needs to be fostered, not sequestered. One ideology does not have all the answers. We must teach medical students to be constantly questioning.

Capitalism has flaws. But many young physicians in training may very well consider communism a public health issue since it has resulted in the deaths of over 100 million people. A search for answers as to why the rise of capitalism has improved life expectancy may also prove to be valuable.

One of the weaknesses of a traditional conservative ideology is its reliance on historical institutions. It is clear that virtue signaling from the far-left has infiltrated those very institutions. Anyone who disagrees has been pushed out of the room. The worst sequela of this myopic approach is that there will be less competition for innovative solutions to complex problems. And, with that, there will be fewer solutions and an erosion in public trust in those institutions. 

Richard Menger MD MPA is an assistant professor of neurosurgery and political Science at the University of South Alabama. He is the lead editor of the textbook The Business Policy and Economics of Neurosurgery.

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