Deconstructing Racism in Health Care Course

Dismantaling Racism with Love, Compassion and Respect

Knowledge of race and its current effects on our patients and research participants is essential to competent health care practice, yet instruction on the history and dynamics of race is lacking in medical and graduate school courses. This course seeks to prepare future health professionals and scientists by deeply and critically exploring how the construction and uses of race affect our practice of medicine and health science.

In western biomedical training, we often forget that the “high risk” and the “underserved” look like some of the students in the room and their families. For a human being to be pathologized without being afforded the dignity of the history of their cultures and origins or the context of oppression can be demeaning, create feelings of isolation and frustration, and undermine the goals of medicine and public health. Without creating the safe space for acknowledging these complex issues, learning and healing opportunities are lost for students of all racial and ethnic demographics and the communities they will ultimately serve.

This learning experience creates a space of love, compassion, and respect where we can consider our own histories, identities, privileges, and oppression, as well as our future place in the medical  and health care delivery system. 

Themes explored in the course include: 

  • What is race? 

  • Whiteness

  • The creation of health disparities and systems that perpetuate them

  • Racism in health care

  • Race and capitalism

  • Race and genetics

And more! 


Bring Deconstructing Racism to Your Institution

The Deconstructing Racism Course has been implemented at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Baylor College of Medicine, and the Columbia University School of Nursing. The impact of the course has been presented to the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Public Health Association.

The course can be implemented from 6-14 weeks, depending on the structure of the requesting institution. 

Spring 2012, Mailman School of Public Health

Notes from discussions, recommendations for change, and other resources are compiled into a Reader with each iteration of the course. This Reader makes the general content of this experience available to others, as well as maintains a history of the course for the institution.

Columbia University School of Nursing

Sample syllabus provides overview of course content as implemented among graduate nursing students.

Presented to Association of American Medical Colleges (2014)

Review the impact of the 2013 cohort at the Icahn School of Medicine, as presented to the AAMC. Contact us for more feedback from recent cohorts.


©2019 by Sharon G.E. Washington, Ed.D., MPH.