Student Poster

The Caring for Communities of Color Conference

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health equity

Purpose: The Caring for Communities of Color Conference (CCCC) seeks to amplify the community of providers focused on health justice work in primary care settings in Southeast Michigan. The intention is to educate current and future healthcare trainees on the intersections of primary care and health justice, connect them to clinicians within this community, and build a longitudinal network of care providers centering the health needs of communities of color.

Methods: The inaugural conference was a 3-day virtual event that took place Aug 31-Sept 2, 2020. Over 8 weeks, a team of 15 second-year medical students engaged in outreach to speakers and social media marketing, secured funding sources, and developed workshop content. Conference objectives were defined as: research in partnership with communities, navigating the interaction between specialties and health professions to provide primary care, myth-busting primary care and why people enter primary care, and serving communities of color in all specialties. The sessions consisted of interactive workshops, panels, ‘speed dating’ with providers, and opening and closing remarks. Pre- and post-conference surveys were sent to attendees to evaluate the conference as an intervention for garnering interest in primary care and understanding of serving communities of color.

Results: Conference engagement included: 49 speakers of various health professions serving Southeast Michigan and Chicago communities, 300+ attendees from across the US, including undergraduate, social work, public health, nursing, and medical students in all schools across the state of Michigan. Pre-conference survey data demonstrated that 60% of participants felt they did not have the skills necessary to care for communities of color in their line of work (n=160). Post-conference survey data was insufficient to draw conclusions, but qualitative comments demonstrated that participants improved their knowledge and comfort in the topic of caring for communities of color.

Conclusions: The success of the CCCC highlights the desire and need for knowledge sharing regarding health justice work among healthcare providers, students, and activists. Since 2020, CCCC has expanded its inter-professional leadership team to include public health and social work students from the Southeastern Michigan community, hosted a successful 2021 conference, connected with local community organizations who are promoting health justice, and created a Professional Advisory Board for mentorship and oversight. Our goals moving forward are to create the foundations for long-term sustainability and expand our mission across other universities in Michigan.