I’m a privileged, old White guy who won the ovary lottery.
Consequently, I was able to grow up in the right ZIP code and take advantage of the opportunities afforded to me by sheer dumb luck. As a result, I wound up being an academic surgeon and worked at the same place for 40 years until I retired as an emeritus professor to pursue my next encore side gig, including working with several nonprofits that sit at the intersection of sick care, higher education, biomedical and clinical entrepreneurship and diversity, equity and inclusion.
Like everyone else though, regardless of status, there was a lot of life collateral damage along the way.
Increasingly, my story has become a rare one. A more common commentary is getting multiple degrees with big student debt, jumping from job, or side gig or career to job or no retirement savings and living in your parent’s house. Just ask your Lyft driver who’s moving back in with mom and dad. Younger people are also more likely to be lonely.
I pursued these adjacent careers because, in part, after 40 years of taking care of 20 patients a day, I increasingly felt I was treating the societal and systemic symptoms and not the disease. They are wicked problems indeed with no simple single bullets.
The disease – opportunity, income, healthcare and education inequality – has become epidemic and all the statistics show it. As one of the haves, I’m trying to set an example for the other haves and show why and how diversity, entrepreneurship and sick care are wicked problems requiring inter-system solutions and why it is in the best interests of old White guys like me to solve them
Four key arguments make the case for diversity, equity and inclusion:
I’ve worked for many years in “safety net” hospitals – city and county hospitals, university hospitals that take care of a disproportionate share of poor patients, VA patients who are homeless and native American facilities located on reservations with a culture of poverty. In most instances, health success has little or nothing to do with what goes on in the examining room. Instead, the psycho-social and behavioral health context usually is a predictor of treatment success or failure. In most instances, doctors are ill-prepared to deal with those issues and live at the epicenter of medicine, the legal system, medical sociology and a very dysfunctional mental and behavioral health pseudo-system.
Here is how education affects health and the price we, as a society, are paying by ignoring the long-term consequences.
No one group, like all women or all Hispanics or African-Americans, can solve issues for that one group. And the majority group — the Caucasian males representing the majority of money, privilege and power, have to be involved in making the change we need. It can’t happen without all groups participating and without White privileged people leading the way to make the playing field level for all, especially those who haven’t grown up in privilege. That is why I am committed to getting this majority group to understand the emerging majority issues and to fight for access so that all young people can have the advantages that many of these people have taken for granted with their own kids.
Dr. Arlen Meyers, is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs and Chairman of the Board at GlobalMindED