Diversity & Inclusion MattersNovember 20, 2015

Fall 2015

Vice Dean's Message

Welcome to the inaugural issue of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion newsletter. I’m happy to introduce you to our office, which represents a newly rejuvenated initiative at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Our mission is to enrich the environment at Feinberg as one that fervently embraces our differences and seeks excellence for our medical center through diversity and inclusion.

While exploring the state of diversity on our campus over several months, we spoke with many of you. We listened to your feedback and revisited our history. We realize that now is the right moment for a collective effort to come together. Feinberg is ready for Diversity 3.0. Diversity 1.0 acknowledged the stark differences allowed to exist simply because we are different. Diversity 2.0 tried to increase the representation of all stakeholders. But Diversity 3.0 is not about egregious slights or setting new quotas; it’s about culture change.

We’re embracing the richness of our cultural diversity and leveraging the best ideas that emanate from the mosaic of our differences. We rightly see our institution as a topmost tier academic medical center, and we recognize that excellence in science, clinical medicine, leadership and program development must be accompanied by an environment that reflects not only the heterogeneity of our world but also the brilliance embedded within our differences. To remain on the leading edge, everyone needs to be at the table.

Many of us at Feinberg already have initiatives addressing diversity, but there has been no central anchor and no mission to guide next steps. The office of Diversity and Inclusion is now that anchor. We’ve already exercised a “soft launch” of our initiatives by holding welcome events for incoming students and residents; co-hosting important lectures on cultural competency; participating on search committees for new academic leaders; supporting research initiatives by adding cultural context to submitted and now-funded grants; reconfiguring the Office of Diversity; hiring a new Director of Diversity and Inclusion; forming a rejuvenated Feinberg Diversity Council; and taking a lead role in supporting student groups.

Next on the agenda is the launch of our fully redesigned website, which will serve as your resource for “all things addressing diversity and inclusion.” That will be followed by our first Lyceum Series speaker; re-doubled efforts to attract the best residents to Northwestern, including under-represented minority candidates, through hands-on engagement programs; and a refocused initiative to align with our talented undergraduates on Northwestern’s Evanston campus as well as our medical and graduate students here at Feinberg.

What will separate us from all other efforts addressing diversity and inclusion is our anchor to the core values of Feinberg – to be driven by excellence in science and medicine. That will be our unwavering mantra.

We encourage you to peruse this first edition of our newsletter, to find your niche. Diversity is not about others: It’s about you. We want your feedback, so please join the effort to further Feinberg as an exemplar among academic medical centers.

Clyde Yancy, MD, MSc, Vice Dean of Diversity and Inclusion

Class of 2019

Twenty percent of the incoming class (33 students) self-identified as a member of an underrepresented minority group. Six percent (10 students) self-identified as a member of the LGBT community.

Diversity & Inclusion Glossary

Health Disparity. Defined by Healthy People 2020 as a particular type of health difference that is closely linked with social, economic and/or environmental disadvantage. Health disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater obstacles to health based on their racial or ethnic group, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, age, mental health, cognitive, sensory or physical disability, sexual orientation or gender identity, geographic location or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion.

Health Equity. Defined by Healthy People 2020 as the attainment of the highest level of health for all people. Achieving health equity requires valuing everyone equally with focused and ongoing societal efforts to address avoidable inequalities, historical and contemporary injustices and the elimination of health and health care disparities.

View the full glossary of terms here. »

Recently Funded Health Disparities Research

Building Bridges, Breaking Barriers: Academic-Community Partnership Aims to Eradicate Disparities in Uterine Fibroids

Erica E. Marsh, MD, assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, has been awarded National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding for a study that seeks to eradicate the significant health disparities in uterine fibroids among African-American women (AAW) and Latinas. Uterine leiomyomas, or fibroids, are well-defined, benign smooth muscle tumors of the uterus that are present in 30 to 50 percent of reproductive-age women, with an estimated cumulative incidence of 70 percent by age 50. The study aims to facilitate a partnership between community organizations and stakeholders with ties to AAW and Latinas and an academic medical center that empowers creative, organically driven ways to address health disparities in fibroids using a community-based participatory research approach. Results will be clinically important as limited data exist on the current challenges and most effective interventions to reduce the burden of fibroids in women who are most affected.

More Research

$17.4 Million Grant to Tackle Cancer in Chicago’s Lower-Income, Minority Neighborhoods

High-Phosphate Diet and Heart Failure: Should Food Labels Include Phosphate?

New Partnership Unites All Fields of HIV Research

Research on the Forefront

Navigators Help Patients Overcome Healthcare Inequities

Many obstacles hinder vulnerable populations in the United States from seeking and receiving the healthcare they need. A series of studies led by Melissa Simon, MD, ’06 GME, George H. Gardner, MD, Professor of Clinical Gynecology, show that navigator programs can help patients get care despite barriers like income, insurance and language. In one study published in the American Journal of Public Health, community navigators worked with uninsured Spanish-speaking women in DuPage County to obtain timely follow-up care after an abnormal breast or cervical cancer screening result. The navigators helped patients make appointments, provided interpreter services, referred patients to community services and gave emotional support. Median follow-up time for women in the study was 29 days for breast screening abnormalities and 56.5 days for cervical screening abnormalities. The study found no differences in likelihood of delayed follow-up between Spanish-speaking patients working with navigators and English-speaking patients, despite barriers faced by the former group.

Continue Reading »

More Research

Developing Trajectories of Physical Activity and TV Viewing Among White And Black Girls

Few Teenage Gay Men Get Tested For HIV

Is Upward Mobility Bad For Your Health?

Pathway to Medicine

The MD Who Hadn’t Decided to Be a Doctor: John Franklin, MD, MSc, MA, Associate Dean for Minority and Cultural Affairs

My father, a WWII veteran and first-generation high school graduate, paved the way for my sister, brother and I to become physicians (my sister is a turncoat, a Harvard-trained lawyer). But initially – actually for quite a while – I didn’t take the bait. After spending four years at an arts high school, Interlochen, I decided to be an actor. So, off to New York and the New York University’s theatre program I went.

In the 1970s I spent a couple of years living in the exciting, but grimy Lower East Side of Manhattan. After being offered the part of “Pimp No. 6” in a movie, I decided, “Maybe I should get some kind of education. You know, to fall back on.” So, I enrolled in a history class on the main campus, a weed-out course for history majors. Lo and behold, I received one of the few A’s in the class. Who knew? I was actually turned on by academics.

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Pathway to Feinberg

Keeping the Door Open Always: Anita Munoz, Business Coordinator, Office of Diversity and Inclusion

My path to FSM began more than 10 years ago, when a former director of what was then the Office of Multicultural Affairs reached out to me regarding an open position. At that time I was pursuing a degree in elementary education and had been working for the Chicago Public School system for 11 years. After a series of interviews, in June 2005 I joined FSM. In addition to my new role, 2005 was filled with a number of major life changes: I had a baby, bought a house and graduated from college. My 10 years in the office have included more phenomenal life changes: I had a second child, completed my Master of Arts degree in Higher Education Administration and beat breast cancer.

Continue reading »

Featured Student Group

The Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association (APAMSA) is a student-governed organization that promotes awareness and advocacy of issues affecting the Asian and Asian Pacific American community. Launched in 1995, APAMSA aims to bring together Asians and others interested in these health issues in order to have a strong, collective, public and political voice. We directly promote the health and well-being of the Asian community, helping all healthcare workers who work with these communities understand how to care for Asian patients in a culturally sensitive manner.

At Feinberg, we engage in efforts to create a space for Asian and Asian-American medical students and the greater Feinberg community to meet, network and discuss matters ranging from current healthcare issues to medical school life. In the greater Chicago community, we assist in healthcare screenings and have close ties with the Hepatitis B Alliance and Chinatown Clinics.

For more information contact:
Han-Wei Wu, president, at han-wei.wu@northwestern.edu
Ruizhi (Ann) Dong, vice president, at r-dong@northwestern.edu

Featured Program

Camp Wildcat provides a group of underprivileged, at-risk Chicago children with opportunities to participate in positive recreational activities. The three main events include a Halloween party, a field trip to the medical school and a weekend camping trip that exposes urban kids to the outdoors – a new experience for most.

Events & Announcements

Have an idea for the newsletter or a comment on this issue? Would you like your research to be featured? Are you an alumnus who would like to share your experience?

Contact Teresa Mastin at teresa.mastin@northwestern.edu.