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In recent months, the United States has struggled with two pandemics, simultaneously navigating the reopening phases of COVID-19 and engaging in moral conversations about how to reverse and prevent systemic racial injustice. Both pandemics have revealed deep structural shortcomings in our country’s healthcare system and society, and as future physicians and leaders, medical students play a key role in addressing these deficiencies to build a better future for our patients and fellow citizens. To this end, medical students must be equipped with skills in leadership, collaboration, communication and conflict management in order to meaningfully effect change.
Recent data have illuminated the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on minority groups nationwide, with Latinx and African-Americans three times as likely to become infected and twice as likely to die from the virus as whites living in the same counties.1 These racial/ethnic disparities are particularly stark in suburban and exurban areas, where differences in how people work and live are more pronounced than in cities.1 Within Massachusetts, medical students have advocated strongly to address racial disparities and increase transparency in COVID-19 data collection, contributing to passage of legislation overhauling the state’s COVID-19 reporting and establishing a disparities task force to address ongoing pandemic-related health disparities.
Similarly, student leaders at Harvard Medical School formed the COVID-19 Medical Student Response …
Contributors All authors contributed to conception, drafting, editing of editorial.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.
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