Mirroring society in dermatology practice
Building a workforce that reflects those we serve.
F024 – DEI in GME: Thoughts and Considerations
Friday, March 17 | 1–3 p.m.
Location: Room 287
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is not an academic concept, according to two speakers this afternoon. It is a phrase that describes the reality of dermatology practice, which includes patients, physicians, and staff of all backgrounds, and workplaces across all settings.
“DEI within medical education has, thankfully, become front and center over the past five years,” said Jennifer Huang, MD, FAAD, chief of dermatology and director of pediatric oncodermatology at Boston Children’s Hospital and associate professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School. She will co-direct this afternoon’s session, “F024 –DEI in GME: Thoughts and Considerations,” which will focus on DEI in dermatology education.
“DEI issues are important topics for all dermatologists because our trainees graduate and become part of our workforce,” Dr. Huang said. “All of us should be welcoming of a more diverse workforce, ensuring an inclusive environment and addressing health disparities in our practices.”
One bar for all
“One important strategy in selecting and recruiting residents and faculty from diverse backgrounds is to make it very clear that we are setting the same bar of excellence for everyone,” said session co-director Mayra Lorenzo, MD, PhD, FAAD, chair of the Harvard Dermatology Diversity Committee and assistant professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School. “Nobody should feel like they are receiving an interview or being offered a position solely because of their demographic characteristics. We celebrate diversity and honor excellence.”
The reality, she continued, is that the dermatology community does not mirror the diversity of the dermatology patient population. Not yet. A key strategy in the recruitment process is to offer resources and mentorship opportunities that are relevant to both the applicant’s identity and their career interests.
Applicants expect more than a simple “yes, you’re in,” Dr. Lorenzo explained. They want to know how they will be supported both professionally and personally.
Only the beginning
Providing that support begins with changing the way dermatology is taught. Formal training sessions on inclusivity and health care equity are just the beginning.
“It is essential to role model these behaviors and provide hands-on opportunities to practice,” Dr. Huang said. “For example, we offer a health policy and advocacy curriculum that includes a didactic portion followed by a group trip to discuss relevant issues with state legislators. An equity committee of faculty and residents discusses issues going on within and outside our community and brainstorms ways to expand our efforts for our patients and our local community.”
Residents leading the charge in Boston
Dermatology is also working upstream to expand opportunities for both residents and Boston-area communities. Residents lead multiple service-learning programs, including a high school STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) pathway program to encourage early interest in science and medicine and a student-run pediatric dermatology clinic.
“We incorporate experiences in caring for underserved populations into our standard clinical curriculum, including skin of color clinics and clinics that serve patients experiencing homelessness, Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking communities, and LGBTQ patients,” Dr. Lorenzo said. “Global integration of DEI initiatives within all areas of the program is best, in the classroom and in the clinics at every level,” she continued.
“Everyone — faculty, residents, fellows, and support staff — needs to learn more about how to create a diverse and inclusive community. It can be demoralizing for residents to receive this education and feel that nobody else is learning about or respecting the principles of DEI,” Dr. Huang said.
“Our work is definitely not done,” she said. “We have a lot to learn and hope we can form a closer community of educators who can work together on these important topics.”
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