Over the five years I’ve been editor of ENTtoday, we’ve showcased stories that aren’t published in
Explore This IssueDecember 2022
peer-reviewed journals, highlighting otolaryngologist authors, artists, comedians, and athletes, and have often covered education, community service, and mentorship. We have also discussed things that matter to us in our jobs and that play an important role in maturing our community to be inclusive for providers and patients. We’ve stressed the need to increase representation to close the gender pay equity gap, and to battle health inequities.
But medicine hasn’t always been inclusive. The saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know” is so true, and, in the case of Dr. Feranmi Okanlami, it made me wonder if we understand the true breadth and depth of inclusion.
Dr. Okanlami is a physician at the University of Michigan. His undergrad education was at Stanford, where he lettered in track and field, and he did his orthopedic residency at Yale. In his third year there, he dove into a swimming pool and suffered a cervical spine fracture that left him permanently paralyzed from the waist down.
Dr. Okanlami is also a Black physician, born in Nigeria and raised in the United States. And in his lecture entitled “Disability IS NOT Inability,” he pointedly says that the discrimination he has felt as a Black man pales in comparison to the inequities he has experienced as a disabled person. Dr. Okanlami talks about the need to build programs and infrastructures that allow disabled persons to contribute as fully as abled people do. Through widened doorways, ramps, and even running programs that encourage ability in sports, people who have been injured, have lost a limb, or have cerebral palsy should have the same luxury of access, and the opportunities to contribute, as all abled people have.
Diversity includes more than just ethnicity and gender. Sexual orientation, age, military status, and disability status all add to the demographics. Equity gives each employee fair and equal access, opportunities, and advancements, regardless of background. Inclusion ensures everyone is treated fairly and respectfully, despite differences. And although not always discussed, belonging centers around the experience of feeling accepted and having a perspective valued.
The work is hard, and it can’t stop, especially since our specialty is near the bottom of medical specialties when it comes to diversity. Our productivity and the impact on our patients will be immeasurably improved the more diverse we become.
This is my last issue as editor of ENTtoday, and I want to thank my wonderful editorial board, with a special shout-out to Amy Hamaker, my editorial partner at Wiley, and to Ron Kuppersmith, Julie Wei, Jennifer Villwock, and Richard Holt, who were all instrumental in providing content, ideas, and creative energy. And to the readership, thank you for giving me the platform for my thoughts. Your notes of encouragement were always appreciated, and I am forever grateful. Happy holidays to you and your families.