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SOAR (Structural Oppression and Anti-Racism) Task Force


SOAR 
brings together residents and faculty from across our department, including primary care physicians, FM obstetrical providers, hospitalists, behavioral health providers, sociologists, and admissions staff. Our central focus is on actively combatting racism as well as identity-based discrimination that leads to structural forms of inequality. 

One of our roles is to coordinate and collaborate with the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, the Graduate Medical Education department, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and the UMass Memorial Health Care system in their ongoing efforts to fight racism and systemic inequalities, including through multidisciplinary efforts like the UMass Memorial Maternity Center Anti-Racism Task Force.


We have also worked to incorporate broad changes into our didactics curriculum and faculty development, with the underlying goal of denouncing race-based medicine as well as holding the medical field accountable for historically prejudicial policies and practices. Learn more about these aspects of our SOAR curriculum, which are overseen by the SOAR Committee. 

The SOAR Committee works with program leadership to oversee our residency’s efforts to create an inclusive environment for members of our residency community (residents, students, staff, and faculty). This includes BIPOC and LGBTQ+ Affinity Groups to promote mentorship, fellowship, and networking. Learn more about we're working to support diverse trainees.

Members of SOAR are working on research and scholarly initiatives to help us better understand the effects of racism and other forms of oppression on health and to collect data that can be used to change clinical practice and how we design and deliver medical education. These efforts will be integrated into our existing Quality Improvement curriculum and have already led to important conversations about our interpretation of evidence and the process of naturalizing inequity through alternative explanations for disparities than the structures of oppression we know drive them.

Finally, we are committed to establishing systems of evaluation to measure our progress as an institution and competency milestones to ensure the residents we graduate have the knowledge and tools to address systemic inequities in their current and future practice. Drawing on the recent work of the Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors, new milestones will assess resident performance (structural competency, cultural humility, health equity advocacy, etc). We will also use these materials to assess our program’s progress in eliminating bias in resident evaluation, designing and implementing anti-oppression curricula, providing support for diverse trainees, creating institutional structures for equitable patient care and community engagement, recruiting and retaining diverse residents, and recruiting and retaining diverse faculty.


                                                               SOAR Leadership Council for 2021-22


  Sara Bou Nader, MD, PGY-2
Resident, Barre Family Health Center

  Robin Christian, MD, PGY-1 (he/him/his)
Resident, Family Health Center of Worcester

“As a physician, I treat the effects of health inequities on individuals. However, true healing can only occur as the oppressive systems that cause inequity are addressed. I intend to use my privilege as a physician to dismantle those systems, while amplifying the voices of the communities we serve.”

     
 

Josephine Fowler, MD, MSc (she/her/hers)
Vice Chair of Clinical Services, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health
Faculty Physician, Hahnemann Family Health Center

“It is important for me to be actively involved in advancing diversity and social justice especially for women and men of color in academic medicine. The lack of diverse leaders and the barrier to advancement robs our healthcare system and nation of the opportunity to advance. I desire to be committed to being an agent of change not just in the US but globally.”

     
 

Stephany Giraldo Eierle, DO, MPH, PGY-1 (she/her/hers)
Resident, Family Health Center of Worcester
Co-Chair, Diversity in Recruitment Task Force

“Every person, despite their color or origin, deserves to achieve health and wellness. It is by fighting against structural oppression and racism that we can move towards a more equitable world. As a first-generation American who grew up in a low-income, Spanish-only household, I witnessed the ubiquity of structural oppression firsthand. My experiences have made me attuned to the injustices that others face and have created within me an incessant desire to help oppressed groups by any means I can.”

     
 

Becca Gwaltney, MD, PGY-2 (she/her/hers)
Resident, Family Health Center of Worcester
Co-Chair, Diversity in Recruitment Task Force

“The lynching of George Floyd triggered a revolution - leading to a nation-wide introspective look at the systemic racism and white supremacy that are inherent in the very foundations of our country. That self-reflection and call to action should extend into every organization and bastion of privilege - not least of which is the medical community, which has played a large role in the unjust health outcomes of marginalized communities.

It is our duty as physicians to fight for our patients and amplify the voices of those who have previously been silenced. By striving to diversify our residency, and thereby the future physician leaders of our community, we aim to address the inequality and inequity at work in the medical field.”

     
 

Jordan Howard-Young, MD, PGY-3 (he/him/his)
Chief Resident, Family Health Center of Worcester

“As a cishet-passing member of the queer community with a complicated relationship to my Latinx heritage, I am constantly aware of my privilege. My mom worked in brutal heat as a construction worker amidst a choking atmosphere of toxic masculinity, providing for us paycheck to paycheck to keep the lights on (most days).

She taught me to pay attention to my privilege and to appreciate the innate dignity of all human beings, regardless of the color of their skin, the love in their heart, the gender of their spirit, the language of their intellect, the height of their social status, the culture of their origin, or the shape of their bodies. Privilege built on inequality, exploitation, oppression, and hate has only one just use: it must be leveraged for fundamental change. May we listen more humbly, work more diligently, and always remember that we are not the center of this story.”

     
   

Jeanna Lee, PhD (she/her/hers)
Clinical Health Psychologist, Hahnemann Family Health Center 

Reducing stigma and other barriers people experience accessing and receiving high-quality healthcare is a goal shared by the disciplines of psychology and family medicine. As behavioral science faculty in the WFMR, I am accountable to these values and my participation in this task force is an actualization of my intent; I am excited to be part of a team focused on reducing the systemic bias inherent in graduate medical education and the provision of healthcare.”

     

  Sonia Marcello, DO, PGY-1
Resident, Hahnemann Family Health Center
     
   

Claudia Pierre, MD (she/her/hers)
Director of Perinatal Services, Family Health Center of Worcester

“This work isn’t just important to me because of the need to fight racism. We need to build a safer environment for providers and patients regardless of culture, gender identity, sexuality, or any other identity group that faces discrimination and oppression.”

     
  Maggie Pollard, MD, PGY-2 (she/her/hers)
Resident, Barre Family Health Center

"In Family Medicine, and in all medicine, social equity and inclusion is not optional. Awareness and action regarding the correction of social inequities is necessary to ensure that patients have access to the care they need. Families with social and economic capital cannot and should not be better cared for than families who have been arbitrarily deemed by society to have less, and so we work to remedy this illness in our society in the best way we know how: through family medicine."

     
Ex Officio Members    
     
   

Jennifer Bradford, MD
Director of Inclusion and Social Justice, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health
Medical Director of Substance Use Disorder Services, Community HealthLink

     
   

Ginny Van Duyne, MD (she/her/hers)
Program Director, Worcester Family Medicine Residency

"My privilege as a straight, cis-gendered, non-disabled, white woman means I can never fully understand the prejudice and oppression many of my patients, colleagues, friends, and community members experience.  I am dedicated to recruiting and fostering a diverse residency community that is accepting and safe for residents of all identities and social groups.  In participating in this culture of empathy, our residents become providers dedicated to creating safe spaces for our patients who experience structural racism and social inequalities and collaborating with the community to combat these social injustices."