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Increasing Diversity at the School of Medicine

January 29, 2018
About 160 members of the underrepresented minority medical community attended MORE's annual gathering at the home of Gary and Deborah Desir in September.

The Minority Organization for Retention & Expansion (MORE) works to connect minority faculty and provide opportunities for professional growth

In 2007, the Minority Organization for Retention & Expansion (MORE) was established to support the recruitment of minority faculty and provide guidance to help ensure that faculty thrived at the School of Medicine. What began as a group with a handful of members is now a robust organization encompassing about 200 members of the underrepresented minority community. Today, MORE provides a framework to address diversity issues, a sounding board when concerns around diversity arise, and a forum for developing leadership skills.

In its early days, Carolyn Mazure PhD, then associate dean for faculty affairs, played a key role in establishing and sustaining MORE. It is now led by co-chairs Gary Desir, MD '80 (internal medicine), Cindy Crusto, PhD (psychiatry), and Lisa Walke, MD (internal medicine). Members meet monthly to share information, network with colleagues in the minority community, and attend presentations on such topics as the promotion process, faculty orientation, and unconscious bias. A highlight of the year is a reception hosted by Gary and his wife, Deborah Dyett Desir, MD '80. This event has roots going back to 1970, when James Comer, MD, MPH, began hosting a yearly reception to help foster a sense of belonging for minority medical students and faculty. This past September about 160 faculty, students, and health professionals from Yale and the community gathered at the Desir's home, continuing the tradition under the MORE umbrella.

Since its inception more than a decade ago, MORE has become part of the fabric of the medical school, collaborating with leadership from the School of Medicine and Yale New Haven Hospital. Darin Latimore MD-who arrived last winter as YSM's first deputy dean for diversity and inclusion-serves on MORE's executive committee, bringing energy and fresh ideas to its activities. Linda Bockenstedt, MD, deputy dean for faculty affairs, has been integral to MORE's work, attending and presenting at meetings and through her support for minority faculty. MORE representatives serve on YSM's Faculty Advisory Council (FAC) and the Status of Women in Medicine (SWIM), and MORE maintains strong ties with medical students, residents, and fellows as part of its efforts to increase representation of minority faculty.

In line with its retention mission, MORE has identified the need for formal mentorship to guide early career investigators and help counter the sense of isolation and lack of support that some minority faculty have expressed. Spearheaded by Frank Minja, MD (radiology & biomedical imaging), and Nii Addy, PhD (psychiatry), who also serve on the Executive Committee, the MORE Mentoring Committee is launching a program this month that pairs assistant professors with colleagues of differing rank above and below them. This initiative, which will augment departmental mentoring programs, is intended to forge connections between minority faculty and foster professional development that will lead to better retention. MORE has also implemented a faculty development fund that enables faculty to participate in conferences and workshops that they would not ordinarily have the resources or opportunity to attend.

While the School of Medicine has made progress in the recruitment and retention of minority faculty in recent years, we still have much to do. Undoubtedly, MORE's positive impact will continue to grow and I am grateful to the members of the Executive Committee-which also includes Inginia Genao, MD (internal medicine)-for their dedication and commitment. MORE is an excellent partner as we seek to diversify our community and improve the climate at YSM to ensure that everyone feels valued. I look forward to our continued work together.