January 14, 2016
Monday is the 30th year that this country has celebrated Martin Luther King Day, to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. For this week’s Study Break, I’ve spoken with Drs. LaTanya Love and Pedro Mancias, both assistant deans for Diversity and Inclusion and assistant deans for Admissions and Student Affairs. We offer the following thoughts as we remember Dr. King.
Many of us have witnessed, in our lifetime, tremendous progress toward Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of racial and cultural equality in our society, but we still have much work to do. Health disparities and inequalities persist in our country. Infant mortality, hypertension, premature death from stroke and heart disease, new HIV diagnoses, diabetes, and cigarette smoking still disproportionately impact the poor, especially African Americans and Hispanics. As members of the medical community, we are in a unique and powerful position to understand, address, and work toward eliminating these health disparities.
McGovern Medical School is committed to training future physicians who will serve the needs of our richly diverse state and nation. Research has shown that those from traditionally underserved backgrounds are more likely to work with underserved and indigent populations. Additionally, other studies have shown that medical students (regardless of race) are more likely to “rate themselves as highly prepared to care for minority populations” if their medical school class is racially and ethnically diverse. For the benefit of all Texans, over 50 percent of whom identify as underrepresented minorities, McGovern Medical School is dedicated to admitting highly qualified students from all backgrounds and walks of life and to promoting a learning and working environment that is culturally sensitive and inclusive of our diverse community.
Our Office of Diversity and Inclusion is working closely with the Office of Educational Programs on including important topics, such as unconscious bias and social determinants of health, into our new medical school curriculum. To further enhance the breadth of our education, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion offers training for students, residents, and faculty on the impact of unconscious bias in healthcare delivery. The office recently distributed a faculty survey to assess the inclusivity of our medical school for all faculty. The feedback we get from this survey will help us address any disparities and make our school the best possible place to work. For more information about these programs and other opportunities through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, please contact Crystal Parker.
We believe that a diverse and inclusive community enriches all of us. As ethically engaged healthcare professionals, we have an obligation to address health disparities and a responsibility to pursue Dr. King’s dream. As Dr. King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” And, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”