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Medical Schools Instill Diversity, Health Equity into Training Programs

A 400K grant will allow medical schools to build a medical education and training program that focuses on health equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Twenty-four medical schools throughout the nation will revamp their education curricula, creating programs incorporating diversity, health equity, and inclusion into training, according to a press release sent to journalists.

The Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine (AAIM), the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), the ABIM Foundation, the American College of Physicians (ACP), and the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation have distributed $400,000 across two dozen medical schools in an effort to build a trustworthy healthcare system through a health equity curriculum.

“We must intentionally increase diversity, equity, and inclusion perspectives and learnings within medical education and training as a fundamental component to improving medical efficacies for all populations,” said Ryan D. Mire, MD, FACP, president of ACP. “Through these grants, ACP is proud to further stimulate and accelerate activities across the nation toward advancing equity.”

Many of the programs will target young people before they even reach college with the intention of cultivating a more multicultural group interested in post-graduate medical education.

One of the grantees, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University, will develop a mentorship program for Northeast Ohio high school students from historically marginalized communities.

Students interested in medicine or healthcare will participate in career exploratory panels to plot their undergraduate education, the press release stated. In addition, the university will provide the students with learning techniques to foster resilience, overcome barriers, and seize unique career opportunities. 

“For far too long, patients and healthcare professionals from groups historically underrepresented in medicine have not felt as if they belong in our health system, hospitals, clinics, training programs or medical schools,” said Holly Humphrey, MD, MACP, president of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation.

“These grants, by focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion in internal medicine, are one way to stimulate change so that all who seek care, along with those learning to provide care, feel they belong and can trust the care they receive or are learning to provide.”

Other programs will focus on physicians in residency.

Dignity Health Saint Joseph’s Medical Center, another awardee, will use didactic teaching with internal medicine residents and partner with community-based organizations to increase residents’ knowledge of health equity and social determinants of health.

Through this curriculum, medical residents will participate in cultural competency training to raise awareness about their racial bias and improve patient-provider relationships with Black, Southeast Asian, and Hispanic community members.

“Reversing decades of grotesque inequity will require medical schools to reevaluate their curriculum and training programs until we have a system that is truly diverse and inclusive. It will also require persistence and a ton of patience,” Richard J Baron, MD, president and CEO of the ABIM and the ABIM Foundation, said in the press release. “We will stick with it until we get a system of care in which all Americans can participate equally.”

As the healthcare industry attempts to expel inequities and address racism, more medical schools are coming up with plans to revamp curriculums.

In 2021, Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) modified its medical school curriculum to dismantle systemic medical racism and address healthcare disparities.

The researchers from BUSM launched a blueprint for all medical institutions to use to tackle racial healthcare disparities and systemically racist frameworks in medicine. 

“To make change upstream and ensure actual changes to patient care, medical education has to be the leader in teaching students and helping them to recognize the historical and current factors contributing to racism in medicine, in order to prevent that in the future,” Priya Garg, MD, associate dean of education at BUSM said in a public statement.

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