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The Making of Medicine

Creating a Diverse, Inclusive Environment

See those big windows on the front of the School of Medicine? Everyone should see themselves reflected there.

For the seventh consecutive year, the School of Medicine has received a national award recognizing its commitment to diversity and inclusion. The award comes from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, which covers diversity in higher education. We were one of only 35 health professions schools to receive this year’s HEED Award.

The School of Medicine takes its commitment to diversity very seriously, as it seeks to foster an environment that is welcoming to all. UVA values collaboration greatly, and we believe that having a diversity of thought and ideas can only benefit our mission to improve the human condition through our research, training and clinical efforts.

To that end, we have a wide range of diversity initiatives, including a Summer Medical Leadership Program to prepare undergraduates from underrepresented groups for medical school and leadership roles in medicine. At the local level, our people partner with community groups to improve access to care for Latino residents through the Latino Health Initiative. And that’s just a small sampling.

In addition, both the School of Medicine and the broader UVA Health System have focused in the last year on how to respond when healthcare providers experience prejudice or bigotry while at work. We wish this never occurred, but it does, and we must empower our students and employees to deal with it.

“We have a duty to take care of people regardless of beliefs, but we have a duty to everyone who works here, and to our other patients, to create an environment that is respectful,” said our Margaret Plews-Ogan, MD, who helped form the Committee on Responding to Discriminatory Behavior. The committee consists of more than 30 faculty, staff, medical students and medical residents.

Along with online training available to all team members, the committee created a 90-minute workshop for faculty, supervisors and managers that included short films based on events experienced by care providers. The workshops began in the Department of Medicine and will be conducted throughout the Health System in the next year.

The School of Medicine’s dean, David S. Wilkes, MD, sums it up: “Our faculty, staff and students work constantly to make the School of Medicine and the Health System a more welcoming and inclusive place for everyone.”

Amen to that.

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