My four undergraduate years as a Cornell University student were some of the most formative and enjoyable years of my life. The faculty and fellow student body contributed a great deal to my knowledge, skills and motivations that serve as the foundation for my professional development. I’m proud of my alma mater Cornell University’s efforts toward building a diverse pipeline of faculty members and their new e-learning course that asks participants to reflect on their own identities and those of their students, and provides teaching strategies, such as course design, that effectively support student engagement and classroom inclusiveness.
Weill Cornell Medical College
Weill Cornell Medicine is a community that strongly values and appreciates diversity among its students, trainees, faculty and staff. Since the founding of the institution, they’ve been committed to supporting individuals of wide-ranging backgrounds to succeed in medicine and science. Diversity continues to be a major priority at Weill Cornell Medicine because there is recognition that patient care, biomedical discovery, and learning are enriched by the contributions of people with different perspectives, skills, and life experiences. Their goal is to further strengthen a culture of diversity and inclusion so that collaboratively we can find new and innovative ways to improve human health.
Last year, Weill Cornell Medicine’s launched its inaugural Diversity Week with the keynote presentation by Dr. Hannah Valantine, Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The keynote address; “NIH Addresses the Science of Diversity: Focusing on Institutional Change,” headlined the beginning of Diversity Week.
Four (4) Actions for Medical Colleges and Health Care Systems
Dr. Valantine outlined four critical areas that institutions should address in promoting diversity:
1. Collecting data determining whether a diverse scientific workforce leads to better scientific outcomes
2. Building a more diverse workforce through recruitment and retention in a “rigorous and scientific manner”
3. Addressing sociocultural issues that impede diversity
4. Ensuring sustainability through organizational cultures endorsed by leadership
Dr. Valantine also spoke about the NIH’s Diversity Program Consortium, which includes the Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity program. BUILD has awarded $250 million, five-year grants to 10 institutions to investigate issues such as stereotype threat – in which individuals from underrepresented groups and women feel pressured to conform to group stereotypes – and critical race theory, which examines power structures in a society in which racism is ingrained. Dr. Valantine said the program has given scientists from underrepresented groups new opportunities to examine how these issues play out within the medical workforce.
I’ve found the NIH’s tools and resources extremely valuable in my talent and organizational development work that involves equity, diversity and inclusion objectives. The NIH Scientific Workforce Diversity (SWD) Office leads NIH’s effort to diversify the national scientific workforce and expand recruitment and retention:
- NIH Scientific Workforce Diversity Toolkit
The NIH Scientific Workforce Diversity Toolkit, is a free, downloadable interactive resource that institutions can use to help advance their own faculty diversity and inclusion practices. I’ve used the toolkit content in many interventions focusing on; evidence-based activities to foster an inclusive culture including diversifying the talent pool, conducting unbiased talent searches, conducting outreach and networking, and fostering mentoring relationships.
- AAMC Webinar – The NIH Scientific Workforce Diversity Interactive Toolkit
The toolkit guides users through evidence-based interrelated activities that SWD is currently using to foster an inclusive culture that unleashes the power of diversity to achieve research and institutional excellence. These include expanding diversity of the candidate pool, proactive outreach to diverse talent, mitigating bias in search processes, and developing/sustaining mentoring relationships and sponsorship. A key focus is the need to advance institutional accountability for lasting change. If you would like to learn more about the Toolkit and how your institution can make the best use of it, watch this Association of American Medical Colleges Webinar featuring Dr. Valentine.
The NIH recommendations for the U.S. scientific research enterprise (medical colleges and health providers – from basic laboratory research to clinical and translational research) requires intellect, creativity, and diverse skill sets and viewpoints which:
- Enhance excellence, creativity, and innovation
- Broaden the scope of biomedical inquiry
- Address health disparities and
- Ensure fairness in our highly diverse nation