CHICAGO – Health care workplace policies that promote acceptance of natural hairstyles and cultural headwear are crucial to professionalism and equity in medicine, according to new policy adopted today by the nation’s physicians and medical students at the Annual Meeting of the American Medical Association.

“The new policy informs the AMA’s ongoing work to dismantle structural racism in medicine by recognizing that intolerance of natural hairstyles and cultural headwear is a form of racial, ethnic, or religious discrimination,” said AMA Board Member Madelyn E. Butler, M.D. “The AMA encourages medical schools, hospitals, and other medical employers to create policies that promote multiculturalism, ensure a discrimination-free work environment, and support health professionals’ commitment to safety.”

The AMA also encourages health care institution to respect health care workers with natural hairstyles or cultural headwear by providing adequate protective equipment in accordance with appropriate patient safety guidelines.  

In the past year, the AMA House of Delegates has adopted several policies that explicitly acknowledge racism’s role in perpetuating health inequities and inciting harm against historically marginalized communities. These AMA policies include acknowledging racism as a public health threat, removing race as a proxy for biology and eliminating racial essentialism in medicine.

Through research, collaborations, advocacy, and leadership, the AMA is working to advance a strategic plan to drive racial justice and health equity.

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About the American Medical Association

The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care.  The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.