CMA President’s Message: Our strength lies in our rich diversity

September 05, 2017
Area(s) of Interest: Physician Leadership Professional Development & Education 

A message from CMA President Ruth Haskins, M.D.:

My dear colleagues,

Recent global events have exposed physicians and our patients to societal unrest, disorder and divisiveness that have demonstrated intrinsic biases impinging on our core values as Americans and as physicians. Acts of bigotry, anger and hate have further inflamed sentiments of fear, pain and insecurity within our community and have cast a fog over the true benefits and strengths of our rich diversity.

The most hopeful and heartening experience I had this year was a recent morning I spent at the International Rescue Committee in Sacramento, volunteering to educate Afghan refugees about women’s health. We derive professional satisfaction and personal rejuvenation through moments like these, where we can use our knowledge and wisdom to support and heal individuals of all backgrounds and cultures.

As your President, I have been privileged to travel throughout California and interact with you, my colleagues, as a guest at your medical society meetings. I have found you to be a robustly diverse, deeply engaged and highly professional group, steadfastly committed to your patients and to our ethical obligations. You represent who we are.

We physicians are viewed as community leaders, woven into the fabric of our culture: societal pillars who have the ability to motivate and the means to promote diversity through health, healing and communication. We are committed to do no harm. We reject any action that negates the dignity that every human being deserves.

We recognize that health is not confined to the physical body; health extends to the strength and vitality of our society. Studies have suggested that acts of discrimination, such as hate crimes and overt racism, negatively impact the health of our communities, raising the risk of depression, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and even death. To lessen the negative impact of recent events on us and our patients' health, we must maintain our perspective, share our insights and champion our mission. We know physicians and patients thrive when we can practice medicine, plying our art and compassion to heal, regardless of the gender, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation of the provider or patient.

Our California Medical Association (CMA) believes that diversity – in culture, thought, language and experience – strengthens our community. We are deeply honored and humbled to share and represent the values of California, one of the most diverse states in the nation, where physicians treat patients of every religion, culture and immigration status. We honor our profession by our advocacy and commitment to diversity in all its forms.

In point of fact, CMA’s diversity and inclusion mission statement provides that "the California Medical Association embraces diversity and inclusion as critical to our mission. We strive to ensure that the work we do, how we carry out our work and the issues we address all reflect the rich diversity of the patients and the physicians we serve and represent.” In these challenging times, I strongly encourage each and every one of you to proudly stand by these principles. We physicians and our California Medical Association will stand united to provide comfort, care and stability today, tomorrow and always.


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