A STEP FORWARD: ANTI-RACIST TRAINING IN PUBLIC HEALTH
- By: Serena McCovery, MBA
Racism was deemed a public health emergency in 2020, emphasizing the urgent need to advance inclusion, equity, and diversity. Public health practitioners are essential in fighting against bias, discrimination, and microaggressions in the workplace. The self-paced training, “How to be Anti-Racist in the Everyday Practice of Public Health, is designed to equip public health professionals with the skills to recognize and manage biases, promote more equitable health services,” and improve health outcomes for all populations.
Biases come in various forms, including implicit prejudices, explicit biases, and structural biases, and they can significantly impact health outcomes. Biases may lead to unequal access to healthcare services or inadequate treatment of specific populations, resulting in disparities in health outcomes. How to be Anti-Racist in the Everyday Practice of Public Health addresses these biases and harmful practices in public health while emphasizing the importance of cultural humility. Cultural humility involves acknowledging and respecting the diversity of cultures and perspectives among individuals and communities. In the current political climate, where there may be heightened sensitivity around issues related to race, ethnicity, gender, and other identity factors, cultural humility can help to promote understanding and build trust between individuals and communities.
The Region V Public Health Training Center (RVPHTC) collaborated with the National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI) and Health and Human Rights Fellow in the Harvard FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Dr. Brittney Butler, to develop this groundbreaking racial equity training. The training is available with continuing education (CE) and non-CE options. Iit is also a part of the broader RVPHTC Health Equity & Racial Justice in Public Health program. It utilizes vignettes to bring real-life experiences to the forefront, proactively addressing microaggressions and racism in relatable and realistic scenarios.
Dr. Butler hopes health departments will utilize the vignettes “to think about the roles that they play, both sort of in a workforce way and also their interactions with community [and] not from a frame of ‘we’re bad, and we did something wrong’ but that there are both intentional and unintentional harms that come with the decisions that we make, and so we have to be more mindful about how we’re making decisions and who will be impacted by those decisions.”
The training aims to help public health practitioners develop the knowledge and skills to identify biases and harmful practices and address them appropriately and equitably.
Participants have overwhelmingly praised the course, with over 2,000 registrations and over 800 completions as of April 2023. Dr. Butler’s expert presentation skills have earned widespread praise, and an impressive 90% of survey respondents reported that their understanding of the subject matter had improved because of the training. The course is also shareable beyond the public health sector, making it an excellent resource for various fields.
Public health practitioners can play a critical role in promoting the health and well-being of all populations by developing the skills needed to evaluate evidence and make informed decisions critically.
As Dr. Butler states, “this training will provide a lens by which public health will go back to social justice roots and think about ways in which our goal is prevention, and so in terms of thinking about prevention as a field and as a workforce, we need to be thinking [not only] about root causes in addition to interventions but [also] how can we really address root causes in a way that we’re able to prevent health disparities and inequities on a population level.”
The training is designed to help public health practitioners recognize and manage biases in their work, promoting more equitable health services and improving health outcomes for all populations.
It’s clear that the fight against racism and discrimination requires ongoing education and training, and programs like the one developed by Dr. Butler, NNPHI, and RVPHTC can make a significant impact. By promoting a better understanding of microaggressions, bias, and diversity, public health practitioners can create more equitable workplaces and ultimately improve the health outcomes of the communities they serve. The collaborative effort to create an inclusive and equitable learning environment should be commended and shared. The hope is that other public health hubs follow their example and invest in similar training programs to ensure all students can access equitable public health. So don’t hesitate to enroll in How to be Anti-Racist in the Everyday Practice of Public Health to equip yourself better to fight racism and bias in the public health workplace.
To learn more, check out these resources:
- How to be Anti-Racist in the Everyday Practice of Public Health training
- Racism in Public Health podcast series