Wright State Physicians OBGYN clinician shares importance of social justice in medicine

Keith Reisinger-Kindle, D.O., is passionate about the importance of social justice and the need to incorporate it into medicine. Reisinger-Kindle is assistant residency program director with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology (OBGYN) at the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine (BSOM) and a clinician in the OBGYN department at Wright State Physicians.

“Incorporating social justice into medicine involves providing physicians with the skills to examine the roles that bias, discrimination and oppression play in the lives of our patients and colleagues,” said Reisinger-Kindle.

Reisinger-Kindle’s experience in this field comes from his time as an intergroup dialogue facilitator and instructor with the University of Michigan Program on Intergroup Relations. He utilizes the formal training he received as a social justice and anti-racism facilitator and educator to host a social justice training program for OBGYN residents at BSOM.

Reisinger-Kindle began this program in July when he joined BSOM and Wright State Physicians. He promoted the program through word of mouth and as information spread to the OBGYN residents the training gained interest.

“Show rate for the trainings has been over 80 percent,” Reisinger-Kindle said.

The voluntary training program is 10 months long, one session per month. Each session lasts an hour and a half and is held at the Berry Women’s Center at Miami Valley Hospital’s main campus in downtown Dayton.

“Dr. Reisinger-Kindle has been extremely beneficial to our program. He brings a fresh perspective, and his compassion really shines through. From the training, I feel more comfortable talking to patients who come from different walks of life,” said Cpt. Zachary G. Candela, D.O., an OBGYN third-year resident.

The sessions involve training through dialogue. The training sessions have titles such as “Gender and Ability Privilege” and “How Your Racial Privilege Affects the Care Your Patients Receive.” The sessions use dialogue and activities to enforce learning points and highlight an individual’s own experiences.

In one training activity, participants pick up a rock every time the facilitator mentions a type of discrimination or social injustice that they have experienced. At the end of the exercise, by seeing those holding several rocks, it is apparent the burdens people are carrying due to discrimination. This can help physicians see that their patients not only deal with health issues could also have heavy burdens that often result in physical consequences, even if they are not seen or perceived as necessarily physical experiences.

Reisinger-Kindle said the field of medicine has not always acknowledged the role that bias, discrimination, structural and institutional oppression play in the lives of our colleagues and patients. This is despite an understanding that they all play a significant role in not only patient care outcomes and experiences but also a significant role in the outcomes and experiences of those in the health care workforce. By providing training in the identification of bias, discrimination and oppression in people’s environments, and by providing training on how to compassionately lead and participate in conversations on these topics, Reisinger-Kindle said, the School of Medicine provide the OBGYN residents with the skills to go into the community and advocate for change.

“The ultimate goal in social justice education programs is to not only acquire the skills to lead conversations in local communities but to provide participants with the ability to create, enact and evaluate programs to address the underlying biases, discrimination and oppressions that create and support these disparate outcomes and experiences to begin with,” Reisinger-Kindle said. “These training programs create change agents that can then go out and use their knowledge, experience and skills to have an effect on the severe health care disparities that this country is currently struggling to address.”

Marie Rosenberger, M.D., a second-year OBGYN resident, said, “The social justice dialogue has been an excellent addition to our education as residents. These sessions have helped highlight prejudices and disparities that affect our daily interactions. I feel grateful to be a part of a program that values including social justice training as part of our education.”

The social justice training Reisinger-Kindle provides to residents has more commonly been offered in the fields of education and psychology. “Nobody in medicine is doing this to such an intense and thorough degree,” said Reisinger-Kindle. “My goal is to provide this program to physicians nationwide, regardless of the level of training.”

Reisinger-Kindle has presented nationally on various social justice topics including anti-racism, LGBTQ barriers to health care, provider privilege and health care disparities more broadly. His most recent presentation was scheduled for last spring at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Annual Clinical and Scientific Meeting, which due to COVID-19, will now take place in May 2021. He spoke on social identity during Grand Rounds at the University of Massachusetts-Baystate.

At the University of Michigan, he received the Patricia Gurin Certificate of Merit for Advanced Training in Social Justice Education and Intergroup Dialogue.

Reisinger-Kindle is currently engaged in the local community in various capacities to address health care disparities, including serving as a member of the NAACP health disparities committee.

He completed residency training in OBGYN at the University of Massachusetts Baystate in Springfield, Massachusetts. He received his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine and a master’s degree from Touro University Nevada in Las Vegas and his Master of Public Health and undergraduate degrees from the University of Michigan.


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