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Doctors who say Duke University fired him for criticizing ‘pledge to leftist ideology’ speak out

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A prominent emergency physician says he was fired from the Duke University Health System after speaking out against its diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) push.

Dr. Kendall Conger had worked at Duke Raleigh Hospital for about a decade when the prestigious university released a 2021 pledge against racism. Duke Health called racism a “public health crisis” and declared it was dedicated “to overcoming the painful separations that divide us.” Conger considered the promise “somewhat radical” and decided to speak out.

“It wasn’t so much a promise of better medicine, but a promise of left-wing ideology. And so I felt that if I didn’t say anything, I was giving tacit approval to what was in the promise,” Conger told Fox News Digital.

Conger, who said he thinks DEI stands for “didn’t earn it,” disagreed with the notion that racism is a public health crisis, especially because the pledge claimed it was “guided by science.”

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Dr. Kendall Conger spoke out against Duke Health’s pledge.

“I thought it was strange. It wasn’t something I had recognized. I didn’t know where they got that information from. I did some searching and couldn’t find it, but I decided, well, they’re the ones who did this the statement, he says.

Conger said he asked Duke Health for the data used to back up the statement, but the university failed to provide clinical or medical data. Instead, the school offered social science data.

“I thought to myself, ‘Social science data?’ I have social science data, but we’re a clinical institution and you made what appeared to be a clinical statement,’ and they said, ‘Well, maybe we could have phrased it better,’ but they didn’t change anything or let anyone know,” said Conger.

Conger wasn’t done questioning Duke Health’s anti-racism pledge but said the institution “refused to answer” why it prioritized fairness over equality.

“Our country, our whole vision for our society, has been one where we look toward the equality of individuals, not that group outcomes are equal, which is what justice means,” Conger said.

Conger said he eventually learned that Duke Health stopped engaging with his questions because he shared their answers with other people in the community. He voiced his concerns with doctors, friends and family, but also in a scathing public address calling out his employer.

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Duke Health called racism a “public health crisis.” (iStock)

He wrote “Duke Health’s Anti-Racist ‘Pledge’ Is Not Guided by Science,” which was published by the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, a nonprofit institute dedicated to improving higher education, in May 2023

Ultimately, Conger believes Duke Health didn’t want to defend its promise publicly.

“They eventually had enough of me and said I was fired, not for cause. So I didn’t do anything ethically or medically wrong. It’s mainly because they didn’t like my opposition to their leftist ideology,” Conger said.

Duke Health did not immediately respond to a series of questions.

A termination memo from Duke Raleigh Hospital noted that he was “terminated without cause,” and his employment would end on June 30, 2024.

“We believe your conduct is negatively impacting the emergency medical team, which could jeopardize the care of patients. In light of this, we are choosing not to renew your contract for employment,” reads the memo, which has been reviewed by Fox News Digital.

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Conger does not believe that racism is a problem in medicine.

“Everybody tries to do their best for every patient they see… No surgeon wants to lose a life on the table, black or white. It just looks bad on them regardless. None of us want bad outcomes for any of our patients,” he said.

Conger, who said he noticed a decline in the caliber of medical students Duke University sent to shadow him at the hospital since it stopped prioritizing merit, is now looking for a new gig. He hopes he can find one that doesn’t push DEI into the ER.

“I hope I don’t have to move,” he said. “Luckily, I have a couple of groups I look at that don’t push that ideology.”

Fox News Digital’s Kiersten Harder contributed to this report.

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