A View from the Former Chair

At the University of Washington and in the Department of Medicine, diversity is integral to excellence. I’d like to share some of our recent diversity initiatives and let you know where we are headed in the future. 

Diversity Council

In March of 2014, I began to develop a Department of Medicine Diversity Council and asked Dr. Rudy Rodriguez to be the chair. Rudy is the chief of medicine at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System, vice chair of our department, and a professor in the Division of Nephrology.

Goal: To report and provide guidance on how to increase and sustain diversity in our faculty, training programs and staff. 

Diversity Council members

I wish to thank the members of our council for their outstanding work:

Rudy Rodriguez (chair), Adeyinka Adedipe, Lawrence Agodoa, Mary Bach, Ruanne Barnabas, Brittaney Belyeu, Daniel Cabrera, Monica Campo, Angel Desai, Anne Eacker, Erika Goldstein, Fuki Hisama, Ray Lewis, Katie Martin, Carmelita Mason-Richardson, Meredith Mathews, Vince Montes, Leo Morales, Sabeena Setia, Veena Shankaran, Ken Steinberg, Beverly Torok-Storb, Lorena Alarcon-Casas Wright, and Bessie Young.

Several of the initial council recommendations have been implemented:

Visiting Scholars Program

The Department of Medicine Visiting Scholars Program, led by Drs. Dan Cabrera and Susan Merel, is designed to give students with a diverse background a chance to experience training at the University of Washington.

Students spend four weeks on an internal medicine elective at the University of Washington Medical Center or Harborview Medical Center.

Near the end of the elective, students are offered an opportunity to interview with the Internal Medicine Residency Program.

First Visiting Scholar

We welcomed our first visiting scholar, Christopher Ghiathi, in October 2015. He came to us from Morehouse School of Medicine. 

Christopher Ghiathi
Christopher Ghiathi

"I was interested in the UW because of its mission for serving underserved populations, as well as its track record for educational achievement," said Ghiathi.

"An emphasis on serving disadvantaged patients was part of what drew me to Morehouse School of Medicine, and I relished the opportunity to train at an institution that shares the same mission.”

We were very pleased when Christopher matched into our internal medicine residency and will start in June as one or our new R-1's. 

Annual diversity lecture

In February 2015, we invited Dr. Camara Phyllis Jones from Morehouse School of Medicine to present:  “Naming, Measuring, and Addressing Racism and Other Systems of Structured Inequity” at Medicine Grand Rounds.  Dr. Jones is a senior fellow at the Satcher Health Leadership Institute.

On October 20, 2016, Dr. Ebony Boulware, professor and head of General Internal Medicine at Duke University School of Medicine, will present a diversity talk at Medicine Grand Rounds.

Recruitment and retention

Diversity Officer

The DOM Diversity Council has recommended we appoint a Department of Medicine Diversity Officer. This person would be charged with recruitment and retention at all levels (residents, fellows, faculty), addressing the diversity climate of the department (survey, overseeing the search committee process, data collection including metrics), and building a longitudinal mentoring program.

Division diversity leads

We plan to identify a faculty member in each division to serve as the lead for diversity efforts to recruit and retain residents and fellows. Two initial leaders are Tom Hawn (Allergy and Infectious Diseases) and Fuki Hisama (Medical Genetics). Both have implemented important initiatives within their divisions. 

Resolution 539

The department is committed to full implementation of UW Resolution 539, which states that faculty search committees participate in training related to “Equity, Access, and Inclusion in Hiring.”

We have added this requirement and the link to the online training to our search committee charge letters, and have asked search committee chairs to attest that all members have complied with this resolution in their letters to me recommending the candidates. 

Information about the resolution, and links to the training materials, are up on our website, on the recruitment/searches page

Work continues on additional council recommendations. I look forward to bringing you updates on this key department initiative.