In an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune this week, Dr. Selwyn Rogers and other members of the Right Care Alliance surgery council sent out a call for action on gun violence. Their thoughtful piece seeks to reframe the narrative of gun violence from one centered around individual actions and the political battle over gun control, to thinking about gun violence as a civil rights issue fueled by residential segregation, lack of educational opportunities, and economic disinvestment in communities of color.
“After a bloody shift, it is trauma surgeons who are left to tell families that they will never hear their loved ones laugh or cry again.”
The RCA Surgery Council has been focusing on addressing structural violence and racism because many in the council are trauma surgeons who see the effects of gun violence in their workplaces every day. “After a bloody shift, it is trauma surgeons who are left to tell families that they will never hear their loved ones laugh or cry again,” they wrote, “We cannot afford to remain silent any longer.” The first step in their campaign against structural violence is to call out the problem in popular media and academic journals, and to bring more surgeons into the movement.
Some doctors are frustrated with the non-stop violence, but ask, “What can I do to solve such a deeply-rooted problem, other than provide the best care I can in the OR?” Rogers and the other op-ed authors say that as health professionals, we can use our influence to push for policies that will reduce violence in our communities, such as affordable housing, anti-discrimination policies, and greater investment in social services. As with any other public health problem, we must also push for more research that explores the root causes of gun violence and mechanisms for effective interventions.
As health professionals, we can use our influence and our voice.