PCOM Champions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity

Diversity and inclusion are at the core of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM)’s mission to produce well-rounded medical professionals of varying backgrounds and identities who go on to practice in underserved and underrepresented communities. In recognition of the college’s focus and impact in higher education diversity, PCOM was recently named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT Into Diversity.

Fostering Diversity in OME

As a Diversity Champion, PCOM exemplifies an unyielding commitment to diversity and inclusion throughout its campus communities, across academic programs, and at its highest administrative levels.

Through its combined effort to recruit and support students from a range of races and ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses, and sexual orientations and identities, PCOM is not only preparing underrepresented students for careers in medicine, but also helping increase access to care for those who need it most. PCOM continues to work toward diversifying the next generation of physicians by encouraging dialogue and developing programs that support diversity in OME.

The college’s latest initiative, the PCOM Opportunity Academy: STEM-Health Professions Pipeline Development Program—also referred to as “PCOM Opps”—is aimed at creating a streamlined path for young people from low-income neighborhoods with large minority populations to careers in health care. PCOM Opps, funded annually by the college’s Office of Diversity and Compliance, is specifically designed to increase the representation of Hispanics, African Americans, and other underrepresented minorities in health care.

“Our goal is to have a pipeline program—which incorporates tracking—that fosters career development from the earliest stages and provides support to inspire students to reach greater horizons,” says Denah Appelt, PhD, professor of neuroscience, physiology, and pharmacology in the department of biomedical sciences at PCOM. “Being in this program will empower students.”


PCOM also works hard to support members of the LGBTQ community on campus. In April of this year, the college hosted its first annual Transgender Medicine Symposium—a step toward improving inclusion of transgender individuals in the medical field and increasing understanding around the health care needs of this community. The Transgender Medicine Symposium focused on educating primary care providers about the medical and psychological needs of LGBTQ patients, covering topics like the need for continuity of care for transgender patients, setting realistic treatment plans, the benefits and risks of surgery, and the emotional and psychological impacts of transitioning, as well as vocabulary so that primary care physicians can have more informed discussions with their patients. Medical professionals from across the nation came together to discuss effective ways to treat this community effectively and compassionately.

Beyond providing opportunities for dialogue, PCOM is ensuring transgender students and others feel safe and accepted for who they are on campus through the adoption of the Gay Alliance organization’s Safe Zone training program. Through Safe Zone, students and faculty undergo coaching meant to develop, enhance, and maintain a secure and supportive campus environment for LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff.

This article is one in an occasional series of articles highlighting areas of excellence at the nation's COMs. 
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July/August 2016
Vol. 10, No. 6