During the Council on Diversity and Equity (CDE)’s first meeting since AACOM’s Board of Deans approved its transition from committee to council, the group elected Marcine Pickron-Davis, PhD (pictured right), Chief Diversity and Community Relations Officer at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) and Gary Hill, DO (pictured left), FACOI, Associate Dean for Multicultural Affairs, Associate Professor for Internal Medicine, Associate Professor for Internal Medicine at Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine-Auburn (VCOM-Auburn), as their co-chairs.
After the meeting, Drs. Pickron-Davis and Hill agreed to answer a few questions about the council and its future, as well as provide their perspectives on the state of diversity in medical education.
What is the importance of having CDE recognized as an official AACOM council?
Dr. Hill: Official recognition as a council by AACOM provides legitimacy and demonstrates organizational acceptance. This recognition will assist CDE as it navigates the path forward with ideas and suggestions, which may impact the wider group of COMs. Our future success lies in the legitimacy of our argument, which ultimately lies at the heart of any genuine discourse.
Dr. Pickron-Davis: The formal recognition from AACOM validates the importance of diversity and inclusion in academic medicine and bolsters the commitment to prepare culturally-competent health care practitioners.
What would you like to see CDE accomplish in its first few years?
Dr. Pickron-Davis: Inspire each COM institution to appoint senior-level administrators to advance diversity and inclusion. Inspire each COM institution to conduct campus-wide assessments of diversity programs and activities. Increase diversity-related sessions at Educating Leaders, the AACOM annual conference.
Dr. Hill: It is our desire to advance the mission of the council and encourage the dissemination of relevant information that will provide evidence-based ideas with respect to research on issues of diversity. As the national debate over diversity and inclusion escalates, osteopathic medicine must adopt a broad understanding of interventions that are qualitative and that follow effective methods for those interventions. CDE will take an analytical approach supported by research and data analysis.
What do you perceive as barriers for diverse students and what can the council do to provide COMs ways to overcome those barriers?
Dr. Pickron-Davis: The cost of medical school, lack of access to preparation for the rigor of medical school, lack of underrepresented faculty, and lack of curriculum that prepares culturally competent clinicians. The Council will be positioned to engage in conversations with the leadership and to illuminate the unique challenges experienced by minority students.
Dr. Hill: CDE has as part of its mission the notion to create an environment where the nature and extent of issues can be addressed. Our research must explore topics that are best qualified to reward our efforts. A number of interventions can be used to advocate for diversity, to create scholars and scholarly works; to measure accountability.
Beyond statistics, what are the characteristics of a successfully diverse student population?
Dr. Hill: Diversity and inclusion are social constructs that are only legitimate if members of the population consent. Even though people criticize it, tradition is very much alive today. One concern some may have with diversity and inclusion is that these violate traditional values.
Good characteristics of inclusiveness are related to accountability. Individuals interested in the "boundary question,” must ask who should be empowered to participate in this process. It is my view that, beyond statistics, people from different experiences are the most important elements of diversity.
How would you like to see diversity change across COM campuses in the next 5/10/20 years?
Dr. Pickron-Davis: The work that CDE will accomplish in its first few years will lead the change that I wish to see in upcoming years across COM campuses. The first years of CDE action will be critical to the conversation of appointing senior-level administrators to advance diversity and inclusion, conducting campus-wide assessments of diversity programs and activities, and increasing diversity-related sessions at Educating Leaders.
AACOM’s Council on Diversity and Equity convened their first official meeting as a council at the AACOM headquarters in Bethesda, MD on December 10-11, 2018. Their next meeting will be held during Educating Leaders 2019, the AACOM Annual Conference, April 10-12 in Washington, DC.