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Diversity and Inclusion Breakfast: Representation, Mentorship, and More

Apr 17, 2024, 12:26 PM by Kevin Tang and Daniel Cho

As medical students deeply interested in pain medicine, our participation in the Diversity Special Interest Group (SIG) at ASRA Pain Medicine’s 49th Annual Regional Anesthesia and Acute Pain Medicine Meeting in San Diego was enriching and enlightening. This year’s SIG meeting highlighted the unique challenges faced by underrepresented communities in accessing pain management care and underscored the importance of incorporating various perspectives in clinical practice and research. For us, the commitment to diversity is pivotal in a field where patient backgrounds and experiences influence both the perception and treatment of pain. Significant emphasis was placed on topics such as addressing microaggressions in the workplace, fostering diversity in leadership positions, providing care for nontraditional patients, and incorporating research into an anesthesiology career path. These discussions opened our eyes to the subtleties of interpersonal dynamics in healthcare settings, particularly how microaggressions, often overlooked, can deeply affect our colleagues and patients alike. Recognizing and addressing these subtle forms of discrimination became a key takeaway for us, underscoring the importance of creating a supportive and respectful working environment for everyone of all backgrounds. This experience has been instrumental in shaping our approach to medicine, emphasizing the need for a compassionate and comprehensive approach to patient care that acknowledges and respects the diversity of patient experiences.

The opportunity to interact with peers and leaders who share a commitment to advancing diversity in pain medicine has been particularly inspiring. The Diversity SIG provided a platform for sharing experiences and challenges in integrating diversity into our studies and future practice. Through small group discussions at the Diversity SIG breakfast, we delved into strategies for addressing health disparities and enhancing the representation of minority populations in pain research. These interactions not only broadened our perspectives but also strengthened our resolve to advocate for equity in healthcare. It was empowering to be among a community of educators and physicians dedicated to making a tangible difference in the lives of patients from all walks of life.

In addition to conversations on equity, inclusion, and diversity, we received valuable advice toward our career development. Within our small group, we primarily discussed the importance of having a diverse network of physician mentors. Hearing seasoned professionals share their experiences and insights on how mentorship has shaped their careers and guided them through pivotal career milestones was invaluable. It underscored the significance of having mentors who can provide guidance, support, and encouragement as one navigates the complex landscape of academic medicine, which we are both considering pursuing. One of the biggest takeaways we had during our small group meeting was that the skill of becoming a mentor can be trained and polished as early as medical school. By taking on first and second-year medical students as mentees, we can pass along our experiences and knowledge to future physicians and hopefully change the culture of medicine. Our discussion also emphasizes the importance of setting clear goals, seeking mentorship early on, and continuously striving for personal and professional growth to achieve success in academic medicine. Overall, the small group discussion served as a motivating reminder of the role mentorship plays in shaping future leaders and innovators in the fields of anesthesiology and pain medicine. 

Overall, the Diversity SIG breakfast was a moment of profound learning and inspiration. This group provided a unique forum for discussing the intersection of personal growth and leadership with the goal of achieving equity in healthcare. The discussions we engaged in ignited a passion within us to be advocates for change, striving to make a positive impact in our future practices and the wider medical community. These sessions highlighted the importance of developing a leadership style that is inclusive, adaptive, and aware of the diverse needs of both patients and healthcare teams. Thus, this experience has instilled in us a sense of responsibility to not only excel in our clinical practice but also to become leaders who actively contribute to creating an equitable healthcare system for all.


Kevin Tang

Kevin Tang is a fourth-year medical student at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark, New Jersey. Originally from Boulder, Colorado, he is a graduate of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. His interests in anesthesiology include pain medicine, regional anesthesia, and palliative care. He is also a student researcher who has published papers on radiofrequency ablation, neuromodulation, regional nerve blocks, and artificial intelligence. Outside of medical school, Kevin is an avid snowboarder, amateur photographer, and trivia night enthusiast. He joined the Diversity SIG because he believes that an inclusive, equitable, and diverse work environment is crucial for one’s personal and professional growth. As an aspiring physician educator and activist, he hopes that the Diversity SIG can help turn his aspirations into reality. 


Daniel Cho

Daniel Cho is a fourth-year medical student at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark, NJ interested in anesthesiology and pain medicine. Recognizing his identity as being both a member of the LGBTQ+ community and an Asian-American, he is dedicated to working within the Diversity SIG to champion the development of inclusive and equitable spaces for all physicians and patients.

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