In my role as vice chair for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), I get to facilitate and then step back and watch the many talented and committed people who work to advance our DEI goals. I’d like to recognize these individuals and their work leading our five main DEI initiatives, and also note that there are almost 200 other department members actively involved in these efforts.
This year, we mourned the untimely death of long-time MRRC chair, Dr. Kimberley Evans. Dr. Evans was the architect and inspiration for so many MRRC activities. Soon we’ll announce plans to honor Kim’s memory in perpetuity.
Drs. David Ortiz and Bonike Sanders, long time vice chairs of MRRC, now serve as interim co-chairs to ensure the committee continues its efforts in the selection of diverse cohorts of trainees; career development for faculty and trainees from underrepresented groups; and DOM involvement with the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) and Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA). Each year, trainee recruitment efforts are enhanced by the tireless efforts of faculty and current trainees from underrepresented groups, who convey the message of belonging and inclusion that we want applicants to hear.
In April, five residents will attend the national SNMA-AMEC meeting where they will meet medical students from schools across the country. In July, the annual MRRC “Pearls and Tips” event and “Welcome Celebration” will help new interns find their footing. MRRC also provides the entire department with enrichment opportunities, such as the annual MLK Jr Memorial Grand Rounds (don’t miss it: Jan 12, 2024, featuring Trinity College Dean Gary Bennett) and co-sponsorship, with PWIM, of the annual Phillips-Winn Memorial Grand Rounds.
Dr. Julius Wilder chairs this committee with broad and diverse representation across the department to develop strategic plans and concrete goals for enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in clinical, research, education, and climate and career development missions. This committee is action oriented and has accomplished significant changes within the department including the creation of vice chiefs of DEI (VC-DEI) in each division.
The VC-DEIs work with their chief on division-specific activities that meet local needs. These partnerships have led to extremely creative plans, for example: connections to undergrads at HBCUs (nephrology and ID), DEI curricula (hematology and pulmonary), reviewing culture data at the division level (cardiology) and addressing equity in fellow selection processes (cardiology). The DEIAR Committee hopes to identify and facilitate initiatives that can be adopted across all Divisions.
Under the leadership of Drs. Dani Zipkin and Jenn Rymer, women faculty and trainees have monthly opportunities to engage in peer mentoring; all faculty and trainees have opportunities to hear about the career paths of highly successful women “Before They Were Stars”; engage in conversation about strategies for navigating the particular challenges for women and how to be a male ally; and help department leadership address policy that particularly affects women faculty and trainees.
On December 13, PWIM also helped women connect and celebrate during the annual White Elephant holiday celebration.
Dr. Jane Gagliardi leads a cohort of faculty and trainees who have been trained by Ada Gregory of the Kenan Center for Ethics to provide informal support in response to incidents of bias, harassment, or other unprofessional behaviors. Available for consultation after experiencing or witnessing such behavior, Civility Champions provide support, explore options for intervention or reporting, and both model and message the Department’s commitment to creating a safe, healthy, and supportive environment for all.
The CC program includes over 100 members of the DOM community who completed training, with 19 more joining this Spring.
Dr. John Duronville leads a group of faculty trained to facilitate Si4R workshops for department faculty and trainees. Amy Porter-Tacoronte, vice chair for Administration and Finance, is leading the effort to provide workshops for department staff. Nearly 1,000 faculty, trainees, and staff have participated in a workshop.
In the coming year, we will provide “booster” sessions so that learning and skill development are ongoing processes.
None of this work would be possible without excellent staff support, which until October, was provided by Kim Dorman and this month we welcomed Camille Fulbright. It is already clear that Camille will be an extremely effective senior program coordinator and partner in this work.
Finally, a special shout out to Departmental leadership – chair, vice chairs, division chiefs, and division administrators – who have embraced our 2020 commitment to “embed DEI in everything we do.” From equity discussions in planning the DHIP transformation, to considerations of health disparities in the clinical mission, to attention to hidden bias in research opportunities, education and promotion, to responses to incidents of unprofessionalism that may be particularly harmful to marginalized groups – in each of these areas, I have increasingly heard our leaders center diversity, equity, and inclusion in our work.
Call to Action
I am appreciative of the work of our entire community. I know that as we continue our work of building a diverse, equitable and inclusive community there will be challenges. It is easy to put DEI concerns aside, to say “let’s deal with this challenge first and then figure out how to add DEI.” That is an old model that often led to DEI perspectives being an afterthought or not addressed at all.
I call on each of us to ask these questions in our work:
- Will this decision/action disproportionately affect a marginalized group?
- Are the people at the table representative of those who will be affected?
- What is the opportunity here to further diversity, equity, and inclusion?
In short, I call on each of us to answer Dr Cooney’s call in her 2022 End of Year Review, quoting President Obama, to “be the change we seek” and embed DEI thinking into everything we do.