The retired dean of Harvard Medical School criticized DEI obsessions as threatening medicine and said anti-racism experts discourage doctors from asking questions or thinking critically.
Jeffrey Flier said policies enacted at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York and other institutions threaten to “degrade the quality of medical education” by “diluting rigor and precision with ideological agendas.”
The former dean of Harvard Medical School expressed his views in a opinion article, titled ‘Medical schools should “fight racism.” But not like this’, published by The Free Press.
Flier acknowledges the “disturbing history of racism and bias in medicine” that he has helped combat during his 55-year career. But he says current DEI policies are doing more harm than good.
“All those years ago, when I was a medical student, I was taught that an appropriate prescription can only follow an accurate diagnosis,” Flier wrote.
Former Harvard Medical School dean Jeffrey Flier (pictured) said the policy at New York’s Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai threatens to “degrade the quality of medical education” by “diluting the rigor and precision with ideological agendas”.
New York’s Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has been criticized by a prominent former dean of Harvard Medical School for its DEI policies that he says are doing more harm than good.
‘This kind of precision and rigor is supposed to inform everything a doctor does. But when it comes to concerns about racism in medical education and practice, precision and rigor fall by the wayside.’
The steering wheel breaks in a paper 2020 in the journal Academic Medicine called Addressing and Undoing Racism and Bias in the Medical School Learning and Work Environment, by school directors Leona Hess, Ann-Gel Palermo and David Muller.
“I soon became disillusioned. “Rather than a scrupulous analysis of an important problem, the article consisted of dramatic, if unsubstantiated, generalizations about the racism inherent in medical education and practice, and promises of radical but vague changes to come,” Flier wrote.
She added that the document “raised many more questions than it answered,” so she signed up for a Mount Sinai “Talks for Change” workshop on racism and bias.
Flier said the workshop criticized concepts such as “cult of the written word, objectivity, individualism, sense of urgency, power-grabbing and defensiveness” for being linked to “white supremacy.”
He condemned such teachings for discouraging critical thinking, which is crucial for medical professionals.
Flier added that one trainer dismissed his request for a definition of “anti-racism” by saying that “everyone who has a terminal degree should know that.”
The former dean added that the session leader asked a series of questions that “undermined the need to gather unbiased evidence to establish best medical practices.”
He said he was asked questions like, “Why is something that is documented or published valued more than other forms of knowledge and communication?” and ‘Are clinical trials more valuable than patients’ clinical experiences?’
“The questions suggested ignorance about the progress of modern medicine on the part of those leading the session,” Flier said.
The flyer discusses a 2020 article in Academic Medicine magazine called Addressing and Undoing Racism and Bias in the Medical School Working and Learning Environment, written by school directors Leona Hess (pictured), Ann -Gel Palermo and David Muller.
David Muller (pictured) is one of the authors of the DEI report that Flier criticizes
Flier has also been an outspoken critic of Harvard’s response to the horrific Hamas incursion into Israel on October 7.
He is one of several prominent faculty members who are urging the institution to abandon its long-standing practice of taking official positions on political or social issues.
In a private meeting just before winter break, Flier and three other Harvard professors hosted a dinner with two influential members of Harvard’s powerful board of trustees, Tracy Palandjian and Paul Finnegan.
Flier, along with Steven Pinker, professor of psychology; Jeannie Suk Gersen, Harvard Law School luminary; and Flynn Cratty, associate director of Harvard’s research program, made their case at an elegant dinner Dec. 19 at Bar Enza in the Charles Hotel.
They argued that Harvard abandon official positions on political and social issues, create space for diverse opinions, and reaffirm its commitment to freedom of expression.