Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Society Statement on Racial Injustice in Our Community
Recent events in the United States have shined a light on the devastating impact of long-standing, systemic racism. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others are painful to witness and even more painful for those directly impacted. They have also prompted long-overdue conversations and actions.
In recent weeks, the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Society (PCICS) Board of Directors has discussed steps that our Society must take to advance the cause of racial justice in the care of children with congenital and acquired heart disease. We recognize that many of us are limited in our ability to fully understand the hardships of being black or a person of color today: many in our community may not have personally experienced racism personally or professionally. However, we are committed to creating a space to engage in these difficult conversations and to address implicit and harmful bias in our field.
As a society dedicated to the care of all children with heart disease, we are confident that we can leverage the diversity of our community to advance our field. To achieve our full potential as an academic, clinical, and educational society, we must remove barriers for those who have been held back from reaching their full potential as an individual. Only through diversity of thought and experience can we most effectively impact outcomes for our patients and families. Our field is uniquely positioned to acknowledge past mistakes: Dr. Vivien Thomas revealed the missed opportunities and untapped potential created by the barriers for people of color in our field. Meaningful and lasting change will require time, energy, commitment and collaboration. Our future workforce – and PCICS membership—must be more diverse and reflect the population that we serve. As initial steps to create anti-racist structure and policies, the Board of Directors of PCICS has made the following commitments:
- Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee: We will form a Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee to evaluate our current membership and leadership demographics and inform the work of the Board of Directors and all other PCICS committees to build equity and justice within the Society.
- Scientific Priorities: We will direct the Scientific Review Committee to prioritize abstracts about racial disparities for oral presentation at the 16th Annual International Meeting. We believe that there are opportunities for PCICS to further our understanding of known racial outcomes disparities following cardiac surgery (Benavidez, 2006; DiBardino, 2012; Costello, 2018) and improve outcomes for these patients.
- Implicit Bias: We will include a session on implicit bias in our 16th Annual International Meeting this December. We will build resources so we can better understand the impact of bias on our practice and leadership decisions. While we understand that many find these topics emotionally challenging, we believe it is especially important to address them head on.
- Accountability: We will report our progress on these efforts to our membership at the 16th Annual Meeting this December.
We intend for these initials steps to be the beginning of a sustained focus on these challenging and important issues, and we welcome members’ feedback regarding how PCICS can do better.