Accolades:  Med School, Nursing School Honored for Diversity

UVA’s School of Medicine received INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine’s Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award for the seventh straight year, while the School of Nursing won for the first time.

UVA Today
December 21, 2018
Dan Heuchert, danh@virginia.edu

The University of Virginia School of Medicine and School of Nursing have each received Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Awards from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, which covers diversity in higher education. The School of Medicine earned the award for the seventh consecutive year; this was the first time the Nursing School was honored. The two UVA schools are among 35 health professions schools nationwide to receive 2018 HEED Awards.

“The Health Professions HEED Award process consists of a comprehensive and rigorous application that includes questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees – and best practices for both; continued leadership support for diversity; and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion,” Lenore Pearlstein, INSIGHT Into Diversity’s publisher, said.

The School of Medicine supports a range of diversity initiatives. They include a Summer Medical Leadership Program to prepare college undergraduates from underrepresented groups for medical school and leadership roles in medicine, as well as partnerships with community groups to improve access to care for local Latino residents through the Latino Health Initiative.

Heed Award
Over the past year, diversity and inclusion efforts at the Medical School – and across the UVA Health System – have focused on how to respond when health care providers experience prejudice or bigotry while at work.

“We have a duty to take care of people regardless of beliefs, but we have a duty to everyone who works here, and to our other patients, to create an environment that is respectful,” said Dr. Margaret Plews-Ogan, a School of Medicine faculty member who helped form the Committee on Responding to Discriminatory Behavior. The committee includes more than 30 faculty and staff members, medical students and medical residents.

Along with messaging throughout the Health System that reflects the institution’s commitment to inclusion, the committee developed training to help team members respond when they experience or witness acts of prejudice or bigotry. Complementing online training available to all team members, the committee created a 90-minute workshop for faculty, supervisors and managers that included short films based on events experienced by care providers and discussions of how to respond. The workshops began earlier this year in the Department of Medicine and will be conducted throughout the Health System in the next year.

“Our faculty, staff and students work constantly to make the School of Medicine and the Health System a more welcoming and inclusive place for everyone,” School of Medicine Dean Dr. David S. Wilkes said. “Earning the HEED Award for the seventh consecutive year is a testament to the hard work of countless people across the School of Medicine.”

“The HEED Award is truly an honor,” School of Nursing Dean Dorrie K. Fontaine said, “and acknowledges the comprehensive, deliberate and strategic approach our school has taken in this important domain. From admissions to hiring, clinicals to curricula, everything we do is examined through this important lens.”

Since establishing the Initiative on Diversity, Inclusion and Excellence Achievement, or IDEA, in 2014, the Nursing School has shifted its recruitment, admissions and retention strategies to welcome more underrepresented and first-generation applicants, established affinity groups for students of color, initiated expansive diversity training for faculty and staff, and urged professors to incorporate diverse perspectives and inclusive content into their courses.

While faculty and graduate teaching assistants attend trainings across a variety of diversity-related topics, all nursing students also take part in cultural humility training and a plethora of regular activities – from classes, simulations, lectures and other experiential learning opportunities – that drive the message of inclusivity home.

Nearly 100 percent of students across all racial and ethnic group categories graduate from UVA Nursing’s many programs, and a growing array of minority and other students underrepresented in nursing are applying and accepting admission at UVA. For 2018, nearly a third of enrolled students are from groups underrepresented in nursing, and more than 17 percent are male.

The school has also declared the recruitment and retention of faculty members from diverse backgrounds a key priority.

This fall, the Nursing School’s senior leaders took part in an eight-week equity institute delivered by the Center for Race and Equity at the University of Southern California. Through the academic year, those lessons will be shared with the balance of faculty and staff through regular training sessions and equity projects developed in the institute.

“So many individuals deserve praise for their part in transforming the culture of our nursing school,” Susan Kools, associate dean for diversity and inclusion, said. “It truly takes each community member to commit to creating a place of learning where all feel affirmed and respected.”

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