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What UW is doing to confront racism in health care

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Racism within the healthcare system is not new. But inequities have been forced into the light — if not exacerbated — by the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, there's a new effort at UW School of Nursing in Seattle to combat prejudice against patients and healthcare professionals.

The University of Washington has created a new Center for Antiracism in Nursing.

"Several centuries of racism cannot just be erased and eradicated just by creating this system," said Azita Emami, executive dean of the UW School of Nursing. "We need to act. We cannot just talk about these things. We are done talking. Now, we want to act on what we believe is the right thing to do."

Emami said this is just the first step, and more must be done to set the field on the path toward equity.

It's the first department dedicated to issues like implicit bias, antiracist clinical practices and related matters in the medical field. Other institutions across the country have certainly been tackling the issue, but few, if any, have taken this step.

In addition to working with students and supporting students of color, the center will hold listening sessions and establish an advisory committee to represent the interests of faculty, staff and community organizations that serve people of color.

Click the audio above to hear KUOW's discussion with Dean Emami.

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