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Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Focus Of Department of Internal Medicine

November 12, 2019
by Julie Parry

Three years ago, Inginia Genao, MD, was appointed associate chair for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for the Department of Internal Medicine. Since that time, Genao has partnered with department leadership and faculty to spread a powerful message of inclusivity.

Numerous recruitment initiatives were formally set in place to address what Department Chair Gary V. Desir, MD, calls the ‘pipeline problem.’ The department is focused on analyzing the ranks of professor and assistant professor with the goal of bringing the diversity and gender breakdown more in line with the population of the United States and the city of New Haven.

The department began by defining its culture and creating a mission statement. Programs to train faculty were instituted to improve leadership skills. Additionally, team dynamics were looked at to improve cohesiveness. Vice chairs, associate chairs, section chiefs, and program directors were empowered to become agents of change. Yale School of Medicine (YSM) resources such as the Committee on the Status of Women in Medicine (SWIM); Minority Organization for Retention and Expansion (MORE); YSM’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, led by Darin Latimore, MD, deputy dean for diversity and inclusion; Yale University’s Office of Faculty Development & Diversity; the President’s Committee for Diversity and Inclusion, chaired by Desir, and Yale New Haven Health’s Diversity Office, led by Lisette Martinez, were consulted.

“We know that diversity and inclusion are beneficial. These initiatives bring a richness of ideas, backgrounds, and perspectives to create an improved learning environment,” said Genao. “In medicine especially, lack of diversity is thought to exacerbate racial and ethnic health care disparities, which we work daily to dispel.”

The Diversity Committee was established and has several ongoing efforts and initiatives to educate, recruit, and retain talent such as visiting historically black colleges and universities across the country; attending national conferences; hosting students as part of the Yale Visiting Program for Students Underrepresented in Medicine (YVP­SUM); instituting communications and public relations efforts; educating house staff and faculty on topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion; and connecting and establishing collaboration within the department. In the future, they will connect and engage with New Haven public schools and the New Haven community.

The work, which has become a cornerstone of the department, is making a difference. Over the past four years, 55% of faculty appointed or promoted to the rank of professor in our department were women and/or members of minority groups underrepresented in medicine (URiM).

“We are committed to fostering an inclusive, respectful, and collaborative culture. And this commitment to excellence, diversity, fairness, and transparency guides our daily thoughts, decisions, and actions,” said Desir. “I am extremely proud of what we have done so far, but we can do better.”

The department has partnered with a third-party vendor to map out a plan for growth.

For more information on the department’s efforts, visit its website on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Submitted by Julie Parry on November 12, 2019