WCAAP’s Equity Work Group: Dismantling Racism in Medicine

Sara Beste, MD, FAAP
WCAAP Equity Work Group

A chorus of “Black Lives Matter!” enveloped me, as I navigated the stroller through a sea of white coats, with my two-year-old son holding a sign above his head as he scanned the crowd.  It was June 6th, shortly after the death of George Floyd, and months into the Covid-19 Pandemic, which was disproportionately infecting and killing BIPOC communities.  A march had been organized for healthcare workers, and as we made our way from Harborview Medical Center to City Hall, you could sense the vast array of emotions in those gathered—shock, outrage, exhaustion, numbness. Many who experienced racism daily marching next to many who were understanding systemic racism and white privilege for the first time in their lives. It was a wakeup call. Racism permeates nearly every aspect of society, and as health care providers, we must dismantle racism in medicine. We cannot “do no harm” if we continue to work within a structurally and historically racist system.

Meaningful change demands an understanding of the root causes, as well as the vast consequences of the problem. As pediatric providers, this means that in order to achieve greater equity in healthcare, we must start with educating ourselves and spending time in self-reflection. What implicit biases do we carry? Do certain words like “white privilege” fill us with humility or defensiveness? Do we recognize the structural barriers facing certain families? Are we unwittingly committing microaggressions when we think we are being polite? Are we perpetuating a system that will continue to offer better access and treatment options to white families, compared to BIPOC families? The Equity Workgroup at the WCAAP has produced a robust equity toolkit (to be published later this month) to help pediatric providers advance their competency in equity, regardless of their baseline familiarity with this topic.  Only with a vigorous commitment to equity, will we be able to deliver the quality care to children we aspire to do.

In addition to the online publication of the Equitable Health Toolkit, WCAAP is sponsoring quarterly webinars led by local and national experts, highlighting each of the four major topics covered by the toolkit.  On March 31, from 7-8 AM, Drs. Roberto Montenegro and Sruti Pisharody will kick off our webinar series with a talk about Provider Education.  Please look for a link to this interactive webinar; it promises to be a great way to end March and to kickstart the dissemination of the Equitable Health Toolkit.  Please register to join us:

March 31, 7-8AM: Educating Providers in Equity & Racism
Roberto E. Montenegro, MD, PhD
Dr. Roberto Montenegro is a child and adolescent psychiatrist and assistant professor at Seattle Children’s Hospital and The UW department of psychiatry and adjunct assistant professor in Pediatrics. He serves as the director of mental health services at Echo Glen Children’s Center and specializes in cross cultural psychiatry, mental health for the deaf and hard of hearing, and mental health for incarcerated youth.

Dr. Montegnegro completed a PhD in Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he specialized on health inequities, doctor-patient communication, and race relations research. He then attended the University of Utah School of Medicine, completed his adult psychiatry training at Yale University, and his child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship at Seattle Children’s Hospital. His research focuses on bias in medical curricula, evidence-based strategies for personal and interpersonal bias reduction within pediatrics, and doctor-patient communication.

Sruti Pisharody, MD
Sruti Pisharody, MD, is a PGY1 Pediatrics Resident at the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital. Dr. Pisharody is part of the REACH Pathway, a partnership between Seattle Children’s Hospital and the community and regional hospital of Kisii, Kenya. She has previously worked on projects to improve community awareness of malaria in rural South Africa, to characterize the barriers to maternal and childhood healthcare for stateless migrant families in Bornean Malaysia, and to characterize the incidence of zoonoses in rural northern Tanzania. She is passionate about improving health equity and decolonizing global health.

Register in advance for this meeting:


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

June 30, 7-8AM: Physical Space within Clinics & Hospitals
Kari Thorsen, Principal
ZGF Architects LLP
Register: June 30th 7-8 AM

September 29, 7-8AM: Safe and Effective Care
speaker TBD
Register: September 29th 7-8 AM

December 8, 7-8AM: Undoing Institutionalized Racism in Health Care Organizations
speaker TBD
Register: December 8th 7-8 AM