Social Justice Curriculum

We strongly believe that part of being exceptional, effective physicians, we must have a deep understanding of the medical sciences, but also understand the profound effect that implicit bias and explicit systemic discrimination have in the causation of health care disparities. We strive to become practitioners who provide care that reduces these disparities both on the individual patient level as well as in the care of our population as a whole.

As a team of residents, chief residents, program directors, and with contributions from our specialists, hospitalists, and primary care faculty, we are working to develop our curriculum and incorporate it throughout the three years of our residents’ educational experience, with particular focus on the following:

  • Race and Medicine
  • Women and Medicine
  • LGBTQ and Medicine
  • Resident Advocacy


We are training our residents to be able to recognize the cognitive and implicit biases that affect individual practice, as well as structural biases that pervade throughout medicine and our American society that can affect minority groups’ access to and interactions with the health care system. We are working on understanding social determinants of health in application to clinical practice, as well as developing the needed competencies to provide more inclusive care. More recently, due to the increasing visibility of the systemic racism across the country in 2020, we are focusing on how race in particular has been poorly, falsely, and unethically utilized in medical research.

Residency-wide events: As a part of our retreats throughout the year we are having scheduled sessions run by our faculty and in partnership with outside speakers, for residents and faculty to learn about and discuss structural racism and how it impacts our patients and our lives.

Formal conferences: We are incorporating talks and discussion about cognitive biases and practicing competent and inclusive medicine into our regularly scheduled conferences, including conferences specifically focused on care for LGBTQ patients, particularly for transgender patients, cultural humility, and the social determinants of health.

Incorporation into day-to-day training: We are working with our faculty in the specialty rotations, on our wards and in our continuity clinics to incorporate subject-specific material related to health care disparities both at the bedside as well as through our medicine-focused formal didactics during our conferences, such as during our primary care/inpatient didactics.

Opportunities for residents outside of the program: We are working on providing opportunities outside of residency to be able to learn more and become further involved in advocacy. Some of our projects and planned events are the development of a lending library, featuring books from Estalita’s Library, including How to Be An Antiracist and The Person You Mean to Be, and plans for our residents to be able to attend Ibram X Kendi’s talk this coming April. Recently, our graduated senior class of 2020 raised $12,000 as their class gift for Black Lives Matter – Seattle.

Creating a Safe Space for Dialogue

At Virginia Mason, the team members throughout our hospital system came together and created the Momentum belonging group to create protected time and space for all members of our hospital to be able to come together and engage in dialogue about racial equity, spanning from its impacts on our work within the hospital, to our life experiences in society at large.

Planned events for 2020-2021