At times, I have to remind myself that some of our work is a marathon, not a sprint. But I find encouragement when I hear that, for the sixth year in a row, the University of Virginia School of Medicine has received the 2017 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award. Presented by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, this national honor recognizes U.S. medical, dental, pharmacy, osteopathic, nursing, and allied health schools that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.
To receive this award six years in a row reflects our School’s dedication and commitment to diversity and inclusion. This is a great team effort. Our faculty, staff, and students consistently keep our core institutional values of respecting everyone at the forefront of what they do.
Our diversity efforts include:
- Summer Medical Leadership Program. This six-week summer academic enrichment program brings together 30 college undergraduates interested in medical careers who are from disadvantaged backgrounds and underrepresented groups in medicine. The main goal is to expose participants to the “real world of medicine” to prepare them not only for admission to medical school but to assume future leadership positions in the medical field.
- Partnerships with local schools. The School of Medicine hosts a Poster Symposium each year at Charlottesville High School to introduce high-school students — and future healthcare workers — to medical research. As part of their projects, students visit the UVA Claude Moore Health Sciences Library and are mentored by UVA research scientists.
- Committee on Women. The committee promotes opportunities for mentoring and leadership for women throughout the School of Medicine, including an annual award honoring a faculty member for their leadership efforts.
- Latino Health Initiative. In partnership with groups across UVA and the Charlottesville area, members work to improve health literacy, outcomes and access to care for local Latino residents. Ongoing projects include biweekly cardiovascular disease screening and education sessions, as well as training and empowerment for Latino community health workers.
I commend our faculty and staff for being dedicated to such an important effort. Special thanks to Dr. Greg Townsend, Associate Dean for Diversity. Each department has designated a diversity facilitator, and Greg has been meeting regularly with these facilitators to implement and promote diversity efforts in all departments. While there is still much to be done in the realm of diversity and inclusion, I feel like we are making positive strides every day. For that, I thank you all.
The University of Virginia School of Medicine will be featured, along with 23 other recipients, in the December 2017 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. For more information on the 2017 Health Professions HEED Award, click here. For more information about the School’s diversity initiatives, click here.
David S. Wilkes, MD
Dean, UVA School of Medicine
James Carroll Flippin Professor of Medical Science