As surgeons, our chosen profession has the power to affect the balance of life and death every day. We became surgeons to improve our patients’ quality of life, or to give them a second chance at living. As healers, it is therefore our mission to prevent harm to those entrusted in our care. We take an oath to do so.
History has not demonstrated the same regard for the sanctity of Black lives. Recently, our country has borne witness to the senseless murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, and the numerous others that preceded them. The national and international outcry from these abhorrent events has been clear—enough is enough.
Words will not return George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and others to their loved ones, nor will it change the ideology associated with the events leading to their untimely deaths. Only action will do that.
We in the department of surgery at the University of Florida first need to acknowledge the history of discrimination and systemic inequity that exists in healthcare, disproportionately affecting our Black patients, as well as all Black healthcare workers daily. We then need to steadfastly support and foster an environment of diversity and inclusion for our faculty, trainees, medical students, and staff. We must not tolerate any form of systemic racism, bias, or oppression.
As a department, we pledge to move the needle forward, beginning with actionable change to facilitate a sustained shift in mindset and culture around race, gender and discrimination. It is our department’s responsibility to confront bigotry and prejudice authentically. As long as inequity and injustice persist, we must commit to consciously working against it.
We stand firmly with the Black community during these times and realize we must all pull together to support one another. Together we can do better. Together we will do better.