From the time I entered the medical profession, I have been reminded that I am one of the few.
Through years of training, I became a cardiologist, but what struck me was that as a black cardiologist, I was part of a group that made up a small portion of the medical workforce. Blacks and African-Americans make up 4 percent of the physician workforce according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Facing such statistics, I realized that being an American of Nigerian descent who was the first doctor in his family, I could potentially provide a unique perspective of how to reach underserved communities to improve the delivery of patient care, but I also needed guidance from a major medical organization to do this in an effective way.
Over the years, medical societies like the American College of Cardiology (ACC) have thought more about increasing the diversity of the physician workforce to help deliver quality, competent care throughout the nation and improve health care disparities. The ACC, in particular, has sought out organizations that could help with these goals, with one of these organizations being the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC). Founded in 1974 by Richard Allen Williams, MD, FACC, the mission of ABC is to “promote the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, including stroke, in blacks and other minorities,” as well as “to achieve health equity for all through the elimination of disparities.” Since its founding, membership has grown from 17 founding members to over 1,800 members currently (including me). The partnership between the ACC and ABC has grown over the years, and the strength of this partnership was evident this past weekend at the recent ACC.19 Scientific Sessions in New Orleans.
Throughout the conference, the ACC highlighted its Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, which aims to advance diversity and inclusion within the cardiovascular workforce and for its members. ACC leadership had discussed ways in which they were trying to fulfill its mission, explaining how its relationship with ABC was helping with this. Through different events such as a town hall meeting to discuss diversity and inclusion in Cardiology as well as a joint ABC/ACC symposium discussing the application of guideline-directed therapies with its implications for minority populations and the resolution of disparities, attendees had the opportunity to learn how the ACC is thinking about diversity and inclusion in a way that can positively impact patient care. The culmination of this relationship between ACC and ABC was marked by the receipt of the inaugural Distinguished Award for Leadership in Diversity and Inclusion by Williams at the ACC Convocation on March 18.
As I walked away from the ACC.19 this year, I felt proud to be a member of both the ACC and ABC for the work that they have done to promote diversity and inclusion in the workforce in a way that ultimately leads back to patient care. Now as a member of the Advocacy Committee of the ABC, I have more of a desire to carry out the missions of both the ABC and ACC Diversity and Inclusion Task Force.
I am realizing more that as a black cardiologist, I have a unique voice that can provide guidance in terms of how to further these particular missions. I am also realizing that my path as a cardiologist has been helped in part by the founding members of the ABC who provided examples of how to deliver exceptional cardiovascular care to minority communities. My hope is that this relationship between the ACC and ABC will continue to grow with the improvement of health care delivery and improvement in health care disparities as the ultimate results.
Chiduzie Madubata, MD, FACC is a general cardiologist who specializes in echocardiography, nuclear cardiology, and non-invasive cardiology. He is a clinical assistant professor at Drexel University College of Medicine.