The annual INSIGHT Into Diversity Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award recognizes U.S. medical, dental, pharmacy, osteopathic, nursing, veterinary, allied health, and other health schools and centers that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion on their campuses. In our December 2020 issue, we recognize the year’s winners by highlighting some of the most important factors assessed by the Health Professions HEED Award.
Women in Academic Medicine
For 11 years, the Women in Academic Medicine (WIAM) group at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine has supported the career development of women faculty by promoting clinical, scientific, and teaching excellence. There are nearly 665 members who help increase representation and participation of women on campus. WIAM hosts leadership skills training seminars, offers strategies to enhance recruitment and retention, and encourages advocacy and strategic alliances for the benefit of women in medicine.
The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine’s newly opened House System cultivates and fosters a sense of connection among the college community. House System-style learning communities provide opportunities for students to interact with one another and get to know staff and faculty outside of the classroom. Students, faculty, and staff are sorted into one of four Houses to engage in informal community-building activities and friendly competitions throughout the year, with the overarching goal to create increased support and connection across campus as well as help to further the college’s Community of Inclusion and Be Well programming.
Peer Tutoring Program
The University of Florida College of Dentistry’s Peer Tutoring Program is available free of charge to individual or small groups of dental students who need additional instruction in didactic or preclinical courses. Student performance is reviewed to identify those who may require interventions and academic assistance. Interventions may include counseling, tutoring, and on-campus resources. Peer tutors are selected by faculty and receive compensation for their services, thus providing the added benefit of helping them pay for dental school. The vast majority of tutors and those being tutored are from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Diversity and Inclusion Mentoring Network Program
The Texas Christian University and University of Texas Health Science Center School of Medicine (TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine) know that students who are underrepresented in medicine or disadvantaged socioeconomically — especially first-generation medical students — are typically not exposed to medical culture from a young age. The TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine pairs students with faculty in the Diversity and Inclusion Mentoring Network Program (DIMNP). Mentors help students adjust to medical school, serve as a resource for services available on campus, and provide guidance on specialty decisions and research. No students are turned away; however, DIMNP focuses on those who self-identify as Hispanic/Latinx or African American/Black, are socioeconomically disadvantaged, and educationally disadvantaged.
Debt-Free Medical Education
To systematically address the cost of medical education for prospective students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, Weill Cornell Medicine has committed to a debt-free medical education program. All students with financial need are offered debt-free graduation based on the annual cost of attendance. This includes not only tuition but also cost-of-living expenses such as housing and health insurance fees. Thanks to generous support from the Starr Foundation and Maurice and Corinne Greenberg, Joan and Sanford I. Weill, the Weill Family Foundation, and many other Weill Cornell Medicine donors, the best and brightest aspiring doctors have the financial support and freedom needed to seek careers in this field.
Workforce Diversity Grant
Awarded in 2017, the $1.9 million Health Resources and Services Administration Nursing Workforce Diversity Grant provides opportunities for Frontier Nursing University (FNU) to recruit and retain racially underrepresented groups; disseminate DEI training; offer financial and academic assistance; and more. The grant supports a four-year project to increase the presence of diverse nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners in the health care workforce. It also maintains mentoring programs for students of color, meeting their specific professional and academic needs. The Professional Organization Mentoring Program, for example, pairs students with faculty members who provide mentorship and guidance at professional conferences.
Occupational Therapy Scholarships
The College of Health Professions Department of Occupational Therapy at the Medical University of South Carolina was recently awarded a $3.25 million grant over five years from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The grant will provide scholarships to occupational therapy students from economically, educationally, and environmentally disadvantaged backgrounds. The first round of scholarships was awarded to 24 students in fall 2020. The award criteria include a review of FAFSA and a demonstrated willingness to serve in an HRSA-designated Medically Underserved Communities for two years after graduation. Incoming and current students in the Entry-Level Occupational Therapy Doctorate program meeting eligibility requirements are encouraged to apply.●
This article appeared in our December 2020 issue.