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AACOM’s Diversity Council Holds National Meeting

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AACOM’s Council on Diversity and Equity (CODE) convened their first official meeting at the AACOM headquarters in Bethesda, MD on December 10-11, 2018. This marked the first meeting of the Council since the AACOM Board of Deans voted to approve the transition of the former “Diversity Committee” to an official AACOM council. It is the third meeting held at AACOM with members of the diversity committee. During the two-day meeting, CODE members determined the group’s new name, purpose statement, and strategic goals. Their next meeting will be held at Educating Leaders 2019, the AACOM Annual Conference, April 10-12 in Washington, DC.

Leaders in diversity from 20 different COMs came to share their experiences and discuss ideas on how to advance the critical mission of increasing diversity on U.S. osteopathic medical school campuses. The meeting opened with Thomas A. Cavalieri, DO, Dean at the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine (RowanSOM), Board of Deans Past Chair, and CODE Board of Deans Representative, who discussed the transition the group had made from a committee to a council. Stephen C. Shannon, DO, MPH, AACOM President and CEO, then shared a presentation on AACOM’s current diversity initiatives and statistics. He also recognized the work of the former Diversity Committee, which was instrumental in helping COCA define and incorporate a diversity standard in their accreditation standards.

Dr. Shannon had this to say about the council’s creation, “There is no doubt that diversifying the health work force is vital to improving the health of America’s diverse population. AACOM’s Board of Deans action to create the Diversity Council recognizes the importance of the need—to create a DO workforce that reflects the demographic make-up of the population. That is necessary to meeting AACOM’s mission: “to improve the health of the public.”

The meeting agenda was divided into two segments—the first half aimed to share how different colleges of osteopathic medicine (COM) campuses have addressed diversity and to generate innovative ideas on how to create safer and more diverse campuses. Stephanie Czajkowski, osteopathic medical student at University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNE COM) and former COSGP Diversity Representative, provided the results of a campus climate survey on available resources for student diversity. Sessions also included Maya Nair, PhD, Program Coordinator and Assistant Professor and the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth/Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNTHSC/TCOM), who discussed how to promote diversity in research training and how UNTHSC/TCOM has increased participation of underrepresented minority students within their programs; and Nadege Dady, EdD, Dean of Student Affairs at the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine—New York (TouroCOM-NY), highlighted TouroCOM-NY’s pipeline program which has greatly benefitted the local high school community.

The second half of the meeting was reserved for discussing data and actionable ideas to help COM diversity representatives create change on their respective campuses. Presenters included Adrienne White-Faines, MPA, FACHE, American Osteopathic Association (AOA) CEO, who put forward the idea that one must take intentional actions to increase diversity and to never underestimate the power of diverse alumni and even local doctors; and Norma Poll Hunter, PhD, Association of American Medical Colleges Senior Director of Human Capital Initiatives and Summer Health Professions Education Program Administration.

The council decided to name itself the “Council on Diversity and Equity” or “CODE” and elected Marcine Pickron-Davis, PhD, Chief Diversity and Community Relations Officer at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) and Gary Hill, DO, FACOI, Associate Dean for Multicultural Affairs, Associate Professor for Internal Medicine, Associate Professor for Internal Medicine at Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine Auburn Campus (VCOM-Auburn), as their co-chairs.

The first task of the council was to define their mission. The council is responsible for furthering the Association’s mission, “The purpose of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) is the advancement and enrichment of education in osteopathic medicine and in the osteopathic profession.” The Council on Diversity and Equity will promote evidence-based practices and initiatives on issues related to a culture of diversity and inclusion and will further the purpose of the organization in the following ways:

  1. Provide a forum for the exchange of ideas.
  2. Prepare and present recommendations for improvement in the profession.
  3. Assist and collaborate with other AACOM constituent groups in their efforts to promote/broaden/improve osteopathic medical education and the profession.
  4. Advance the mission of promoting and increasing a culture of diversity and inclusion by its very value and through advocacy, education, and communication to serve our members, students, institution, and the profession.
  5. The AACOM Diversity Committee believes that the richness of human experiences is formed by diversity and that diversity is essential to achieving an inclusive and equitable learning environment in which to grow and thrive as future osteopathic physicians.

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Vol. 1, No. 1
January 12, 2017