The American Medical Association represents fewer than 15% of practicing physicians in the United States. It’s difficult to know exactly. But its influence is all out of proportion to its membership.
Which makes its pivot to the left significant for American healthcare. The AMA has gone broke for woke. In 2019 it launched the AMA Center for Health Equity to embed “racial justice and equity” into all aspects of “AMA enterprise, culture, systems, policies, practices”. It will do this by “consistently using lenses of racial, gender, LGBTQ+, disability, class and social justices”.
Its Organizational Strategic Plan for 2021 to 2023 endorses all the nostrums of critical race theory, ranging from structural injustice to breast-beating about historic wrongs to challenging “malignant” and dominant narratives. These include “a narrow focus on individuals; an historical perspective; the myth of meritocracy; the myth of a zero-sum game; a limited future orientation; the myth of American exceptionalism; and white supremacy”.
This week the AMA released its woke-speak guide, “Advancing Health Equity: A Guide to Language, Narrative and Concepts“. This 54-page document calls upon doctors to embellish medical prose with explanations of the social dysfunction which underlie “marginalization and inequity due to sexism, class oppression, homophobia, xenophobia and ableism”.
The Grumpy Economist (a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford) complained about the new rules.
“I found this document interesting, among other reasons, because I thought I already spoke woke. I thought the left-hand column was already the Proper Terminology. They are, after all, already in the mandatory passive voice. How wrong I was! How many more mouthfuls of word salad it is going to take to get through a sentence. Or … last point, to get an article accepted in a medical journal.”
In its explanation of the reasons for revising medical discourse, the AMA explains that “in all cases, pursuing equity requires disavowing words that are rooted in systems of power that reinforce discrimination and exclusion.”
So, Doctor, from now on, please use Black instead of black; historically and intentionally excluded instead of disadvantaged; equity instead of equality; persons with a history of incarceration instead of felon; historically marginalized instead of minority, social injustice instead of social problem; and so on.
This tends to raise the word count as the following table demonstrates:
There is no doubt that doctors have ignored the social conditions of their patients in the past. There is definitely something to be said for a greater awareness of structural injustice in the practice of medicine. But rebuilding medical education from top to bottom to prioritise public health over individual health and Marxism over free enterprise may not be the best way for the AMA to boost its flagging membership.
Learning to speak Woke instead of English may just be too big a price to pay.