Racial and ethnically based disparities exist in healthcare. To highlight these disparities, and what the Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS) is doing to address them, the 2021 Vascular Annual Meeting (VAM) will feature a special session on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). It will be from 10 to 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 20, and will immediately precede the 2021 Presidential Address at 11 a.m.
SVS President Ronald L. Dalman, MD, has taken a lead role in planning the session, which will include a talk by SVS member Lee Kirksey, MD, of the department of vascular surgery at the Cleveland Clinic, plus the presentation of five DEI-related abstracts. Kirksey will provide his perspective as a Black vascular surgeon member of the SVS.
DEI issues have influenced nearly every aspect of SVS activities this year, said Dalman. But the challenges they present are not new. Awareness of the social determinants of health has been building for years. “As the saying goes, ‘your ZIP code is more likely to impact your health than your genetic code,’” he said.
The abstracts will highlight aspects of health care disparities and will complement what members have already learned in the past year in terms of understanding the scope of the problem. “The flip side is ‘What are we doing about it?’ Kirksey will address that question as well, including relating what we have done in the past year,” said Dalman. The SVS DEI Committee has worked hard over the past several months to recommend concrete changes, he said, adding, “Our future depends on getting this right.”
The special session will complement the publication in July of the special DEI supplement to the Journal of Vascular Surgery, which includes a broad range of perspectives on the challenges we face in improving opportunity and health outcomes for all.
“Hopefully, the session and the supplement will spur a lot of discussion about what each of us can do to level the playing field for everybody,” said Dalman.