"Mitigating disparities in health and eradicating disparities in health care will bring us closer to the ideals at the foundation of our profession."
- King TE, Wheeler MB; Inequality in health care: Unjust, inhumane and unattended. Ann Intern Med. 2004;141:815-817
The primary goal of the school's plan is to achieve a diverse and representative student body, resident program, faculty and staff. The plan also seeks to:
- Promote the academic advancement and success of minorities
- Enhance cultural, bilingual and diversity instruction throughout the curriculum
- Encourage an institutional climate of inclusiveness, respect and understanding
- Promote unexplored research agendas and new areas of scholarship related to cultural and racial disparities in health and health care
- Improve access to quality health care for poor, minority and underserved populations.
The students, faculty and administration believe that diversity is a core value that is central to the educational, research, community service and health care missions of the school.
The Diversity Plan begins with an introduction and a review of the 2002 LCME accreditation visit to the School of Medicine , which prompted the writing and approval of a Diversity Mission Statement (Sections I and II). In July, 2004 the Executive Faculty of the School of Medicine added a formal Diversity Mission Statement to its rules; this statement articulates the school's commitment to diversity.
Section III of the plan outlines the school's definitions of "diversity" and “under-represented in medicine." As outlined in the Diversity Mission Statement, the school has adopted a definition of diversity that embraces race, ethnicity, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation and disability. The definition of diversity also includes life experiences, record of service and employment and other talents that enhance the scholarly and learning environment.
Section IV presents the rationale for a diversity plan, addressing the question, “Why do we want diversity in the School of Medicine ?” Citing recent peer review publications and national consensus documents, this section summarizes the evidence that a diverse student body, faculty and administration will enhance the scholarly and learning environment of the School of Medicine.
There is compelling evidence that achieving diversity within a medical school has a strong, positive effect on the quality of medical education, helps to advance student, resident and faculty achievement, strengthens the school's ties to nearby communities, informs and broadens the research agenda and contributes in measurable ways to improving the community's health. Increasing diversity among medical students and other trainees will lead to greater representation of minorities, not only among practicing physicians, but also among medical educators, scientists, public health officials, health services researchers, health insurance executives and health care policy makers. There is also strong evidence that achieving diversity of the health care workforce translates directly into improved delivery of health care services to underserved and minority populations.
Sections V, VI and VII present additional background information pertaining to medical student, resident and faculty diversity, respectively. These sections include information from national sources, as well as data from the student, graduate medical education and faculty data bases. Section VIII provides information about cultural competency training in medical education. There is a discussion of the SOM's recently revised curriculum, which includes a cultural competency "thread" throughout all four years of the MD training program.
Section IX focuses on specific recommendations to achieve the goals outlined in the school's Diversity Mission Statement. There are five broad recommendations, and each is accompanied by one or more specific implementation tasks. These recommendations were selected by members of the school's Diversity Council from among more than 60 recommendations and actions steps originally considered. Council members selected these five key recommendations because they are important and feasible, even during a time of limited resources. The recommendations focus on action steps that can be taken over the next 12-18 months. They also suggest defined and measurable outcomes. Taken as a whole, council members believe these recommendations and the accompanying implementation tasks, summarized below, will help the school demonstrate its commitment to diversity and successfully implement its new Diversity Mission Statement.