The Georgetown University School of Medicine (GUSOM) will launch a new academic track focused on improving diversity, equity and inclusion in medical education.
The Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) program focuses on promoting anti-racism and social justice within the medical community. The DEI track will begin spring 2022 as one of the optional Longitudinal Academic Tracks students are able to participate in alongside their medical education. The tracks aim to promote interdisciplinary learning, collaboration and intellectual curiosity. The program, across all tracks, requires students to participate in leadership development, experiential learning, training modules and a capstone project.
The DEI track was first developed by Dr. L. Tamara Wilson (MED ’21) as her capstone research project after she noticed a significant lack of equity and diversity training for students in medical schools across the nation.
The track begins with foundational modules and leadership training centered around anti-racism, cultural humility and overcoming bias, followed by experiential learning, in which students will work directly with community organizations to tackle a specific problem. Students will focus on the roles of discrimination, bias, microaggressions and racism as barriers to equitable health care. The program will culminate in a capstone project to address a DEI issue in the medicine field.
The tracks will create leaders that value diversity, equity and inclusion, who will be able to impact others through their roles and experiences, according to Ann Jay, co-director of the program and associate professor of clinical radiology and otolaryngology.
“Having a dedicated track shows that the medical school is 100% committed to diversity. The unique part of this track that Dr. Wilson put together is that the goal is not just to learn about diversity issues, but learn how to be a leader in the diversity, equity and inclusion space,” Jay said in a phone interview with The Hoya. “When we teach our students how to be leaders, then their impact on the world goes well beyond the walls of GUSOM.”
The program is one of the first DEI medical tracks of its kind in the country, making the research and creation process more difficult, according to Colin Stewart, associate professor of clinical psychiatry and co-director of the DEI track.
“Part of the issue is that there aren’t really any similar programs at other medical institutions,” Stewart said in a phone interview with the Hoya. “When Dr. Wilson was doing her research on these kinds of programs, she wasn’t really able to find a model program, so it’s not like the curriculum she developed was adapted from blank other school’s program.”
In selecting the first cohort of the track, the directors will work to give students from underrepresented backgrounds opportunities to use their experiences in the program and create change, according to Jay.
“We will look at students that are traditionally underrepresented in medicine, have had lived experiences that will help them fulfill the goals of the track, have evidence of previous experiences in DEI and are passionate about making a difference in the DEI space,” Jay said.
Through experiential learning modules and real-world work, students participating in the program will be able to build leadership skills in DEI that will be valuable in all workplaces, according to Stewart.
“If people don’t feel like they can be authentic in the workplace, then you can have that representational diversity, but you’re not really able to capitalize on it to develop real organizational excellence,” Stewart said. “People are looking for leaders who are able to really enact anti-racist policies, bring about equity within the workplace and vigorously close the gaps in terms of health care inequities.”
In addition to creating leaders focused on DEI, the longitudinal track will exemplify Georgetown’s Jesuit values, according to Lee Jones, dean for medical education.
“At Georgetown, training physicians to care for the whole person — cura personalis — is an essential part of who we are and what we do, and it is a significant reason why students chose to come to Georgetown,” Jones wrote in an email to The Hoya.
The track will also allow students to better serve diverse communities and create positive change in the medical field, according to Jones.
“Our students also want to serve their communities and are eager to learn skills to help them create an inclusive environment for patients and their families — especially one that promotes social justice,” Jones wrote. “We are deeply grateful to Dr. Wilson for her dedication to developing this special track and for her many other lasting contributions to Georgetown.”