A Reflection on GATHER

Ezekiel Melquist, MD, WCAAP Equity Committee Member

As a new member of the WCAAP’s Equity Committee, I was excited to join the cohort of GATHER participants. I’ve been interested in equity for a long time, but don’t always know how to achieve this. This training was important because it helped me understand and address the roots of social determinants of health.

I developed greater skills in cultural competency and communication, which I hope allows me to provide high-quality care to patients from diverse backgrounds. I became more aware of the differing needs for community resources, and how to seek these out in a culturally sensitive way. The training is structured to provide background on a topic, and each of the learning resources are very helpfully labelled with the time commitment required. For example, if I had time to sit and read a paper that was 5 pages, I would select that learning resource, but while I was on the go I could watch a 10 minute video.

During the sessions, we shared ideas for how we were going to address disparities in healthcare access, and examine how QI projects may unintentionally increase disparities. Examining the root causes of disparities allowed us greater ability to identify such pitfalls. Our work focussed on promoting fairness, inclusivity, and cultural competence within our individual practice environment. We were accountable to each other, and the weekly questionnaire kept me on track with my progress. Through the GATHER project, I believe I can offer more personalized and effective care to all of my patients.

In summary, GATHER training played a vital role in improving the medical care I deliver by fostering cultural competence, addressing biases, reducing disparities, and promoting patient-centered and equitable healthcare practices. By integrating equity principles into my practice, in a very practical way, I hope the healthcare system can become more inclusive, compassionate, and effective for all individuals.