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American Medical Association hopes to close racial inequalities in healthcare

Dr. Winston McIver Jr. says he's experienced racial inequality in the medical industry.
Dr. Winston McIver Jr. says he's experienced racial inequality in the medical industry.(WMBF)
Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 5:09 AM EDT
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CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - Systemic racism has become a major topic of conversation for healthcare leaders across the country.

The American Medical Association is meeting in Chicago this week and a new racial equity plan is on the agenda.

Dr. Winston McIver Jr. has seen a racial discrepancy in healthcare throughout his career as a minority physician. It’s something that he took note of growing up, and he’s glad to see it finally getting some national attention.

“Growing up in medicine, I was always keenly aware there was a huge healthcare disparity,” said McIver Jr.

McIver Jr. knew from an early age that he wanted to be a doctor. He’s certainly seen how the industry is different for people of color, but at least there’s been an improvement since the last generation of doctors.

“I commonly remember the story of having an uncle in the 1960s who couldn’t go to medical school in South Carolina, so he ended up having to go to medical school in Tennessee where I subsequently went,” said McIver Jr.

The AMA publicly apologized in 2008 for its discriminatory actions toward black doctors.

Since then, the medical organization has spent the past decade trying to make the medical experience for both doctors and patients the same for all races. It released a plan to address structural racism that is under consideration at the annual meeting this week.

“I think just the mere fact that there is an acknowledgement this is an issue, I think is the first step,” said McIver Jr. “The next step and most important step is what next? What are the phases to take it to the next level?”

The plan calls for anti-racist policies and incorporating minorities more when it comes to pushing for healthcare innovation.

McIver Jr. hopes the AMA can push for more minority doctors and getting more healthcare into underserved areas.

While they try to tackle those issues nationally, McIver Jr. will do what he can to get more minority students in Conway interested in pursuing the medical industry.

“A lot of these kids, I had some of the same teachers as them. I went to Conway High School, grew up in Horry County, Conway Elementary School, Conway Middle School. I’m a local kid and if I can do it, anyone can do it,” said McIver Jr.

Dr. Gerald Harmon with Tidelands Health will be sworn in as the AMA national president during the annual meeting in Chicago.

He’s been a vocal advocate for this racial equity plan, and it could be voted on during the meeting.

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