URMC Trains Providers and Staff on Dealing with Racism, Bias and Harassment

Jul. 31, 2019
Theatre of the Oppressed workshops focused on training the trainers
Theatre of the Oppressed workshop
Theatre of the Oppressed workshops use theater techniques to prepare participants for dealing with micro-aggressions and bias.

University of Rochester Medical Center providers and staff will be better prepared for dealing with racism, sexual/gender harassment and bias, as a result of a new interactive training project.

URMC is participating in the Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) project, in which a small group of faculty and staff will be trained on methodology and best practices for dealing with micro-aggressions and bias. Workshop participant interaction is facilitated through theater techniques dramatizing real situations faced by health care providers.

Theatre of the Oppressed, created in South America with worker and peasant populations to rehearse for a revolution, now is used worldwide to develop tools for addressing conflict. Carli Gaughf, an experienced TO educator, is facilitating the program. Gaughf has used TO techniques with prison inmates, youth offenders and other marginalized groups.

“The tools of Theatre of the Oppressed provide an interactive way to analyze and address individual and structural biases, and they have been effective across many different disciplines and industries,” said Gaughf. “It is exciting that the University of Rochester Medical Center is using TO techniques to better handle situations that arise between physicians and their patients or colleagues.”

“Unfortunately, we have seen instances of racism and bias in our hospitals, such as a patient asking for a different doctor simply because their provider is a person of color,” said Adrienne L. Morgan, Ph.D., senior director, Center for Advocacy, Community, Education and Diversity, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. “Through this project, we hope to deal more effectively with uncomfortable patient situations arising from discrimination, sexual/gender harassment and other forms of micro-aggression—and to help our providers preserve their relationships with patients.”

Following this summer’s training workshops, the trainers will conduct Theatre of the Oppressed workshops in other URMC departments.