The American Medical Association (AMA) is the nation’s largest professional association of physicians. The AMA is a unifying voice and is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. Fulfilling the AMA’s mission to promote the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health requires an unwavering commitment to equity and a comprehensive strategy for embedding racial and social justice within our organization and domains of influence.
Advancing health equity through the AMA's efforts entails a dedicated, coordinated and honest approach. It recognizes the harmful effects of the AMA’s past and targets the systemic inequities in the health care system and other social institutions. And it charts a path toward a more promising and equitable future for all.
This is AMA’s first strategic plan dedicated to embedding racial justice and advancing health equity.
Origins of strategic plan
The origins of this strategic plan date back to the AMA’s Annual House of Delegates meeting in June of 2018. In this meeting, the time-limited Health Equity Task Force—appointed by the chair of the AMA Board of Trustees—presented to the AMA House of Delegates Board Report 33, A-18, a “Plan for Continued Progress Toward Health Equity D-180.981 (PDF).”
In April of 2019, the AMA launched the AMA Center for Health Equity with the hiring of its first Chief Health Equity Officer.
With the input of many both inside and outside of AMA, this strategic plan serves as a three-year roadmap to plant the initial seeds for action and accountability to embed racial justice and advance health equity for years to come. The AMA will initiate and aggressively push forward the following five strategic approaches:
1. Embed racial & social justice in AMA enterprise, culture, systems, policies, practices
- Build the AMA’s capacity to understand and operationalize anti-racism equity strategies via training and tool development
- Ensure equitable structures, processes and accountability in the AMA’s workforce, contracts and budgeting, communications and publishing
- Integrate trauma-informed lens and approaches
- Assess organizational change (culture, policy, process) over time
2. Build alliances, share power with historically marginalized & minoritized physicians & other stakeholders
- Develop structures and processes to consistently center the experiences and ideas of historically marginalized (women, LGBTQ+, people with disabilities, International Medical Graduates) and minoritized (Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian and other people of color) physicians
- Establish a coalition of multidisciplinary, multisectoral equity experts in health care and public health to collectively advocate for justice in health
3. Ensure equitable structures & opportunities in innovation
- Embed racial justice and health equity within existing AMA health care innovation efforts
- Equip the health care innovation sector to advance equity and justice
- Center, integrate and amplify historically marginalized and minoritized health care investors and innovators
- Engage in cross-sector collaboration and advocacy efforts
4. Push upstream to address all determinants of health & root causes of inequities
- Strengthen physicians’ knowledge of public health and structural/social drivers of health and inequities
- Empower physicians and health systems to dismantle structural racism and intersecting systems of oppression
- Equip physicians and health systems to improve services, technology, partnership and payment models that advance public health and health equity
5. Foster pathways for truth, racial healing, reconciliation and transformation for AMA’s past
- Amplify and integrate often “invisible-ized” narratives of historically marginalized physicians and patients in all that AMA does
- Quantify the effects of AMA policy and process decisions that excluded, discriminated and harmed
- Repair and cultivate a healing journey for those harms
The AMA will have great focus on embedding racial justice and equity across the AMA’s other strategic arcs of removing obstacles to patient care, preventing chronic disease, confronting the nation's greatest public health crises, and ensuring optimal health for all.
As a national leader in health care, it is incumbent on the AMA to lean into its influence and play a more prominent role in the current national reckoning on equity and justice both by using existing assets—relationships, training platforms, programs, advocacy, communication and marketing infrastructure—and creating new assets as levers for change.
It is essential that the AMA also simultaneously maintains a level of awareness and responsiveness when harmful emerging issues arise that can impede the AMA’s progression to advance health equity across the AMA enterprise.
Getting to equity and justice necessitates a sense of urgency and ambition. This is not just the work of the Center for Health Equity; rather, it is the responsibility of all of AMA leadership, membership and stakeholders in collaboration with many others.
The AMA’s focus must consistently understand the impact of its decisions, ensure that the AMA shows up in its power with great responsibility and humility to listen, learn, and act, and to remember its fundamental responsibility to do no harm.