Diversity Is Not the Endpoint
To lay the groundwork for a more equitable healthcare environment for professionals and patients, academic leaders must develop a new mindset and mission, said Dr. Nivet. “This can be, ‘We cannot be a preeminent academic medical institution if we are not inclusive, diverse and equitable,” he said. “If I walk around campus and see there is only one African American male in our first-year medical school class, that needs to make us say something is wrong.”
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At his institution, diversity of the student or professional staff ranks is not the endpoint, but a tool to be harnessed to drive and advance health equity for patients and equitable opportunities for professionals in medicine, said Dr. Nivet. Accountability helps institutions stay on track. Assess the inclusivity of your institution and the success of diversity initiatives through surveys that ask students and staff how they feel about the culture. “We need a data-driven approach if we are going to make investments in our institutions” and create lasting, meaningful change, Dr. Nivet said.
Dr. Nivet closed by paraphrasing Martin Luther King Jr.: “The ultimate solution to the equality or race problem lies in the willingness of men and women to obey the unenforceable.”
Susan Bernstein is a freelance journalist based in Atlanta.
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