The Guiding Coalition recently held its first quarterly meeting for 2021, which was open to all medical school employees, faculty and students. A total of 58 attendees joined the Guiding Coalition on zoom. While the Guiding Coalition’s goal for these open meetings is to remain transparent about the progress being made towards our change targets and the challenges we face along the way, we hope that these meetings can provide an opportunity for the medical school community to feel more connected, learn how to become more involved in the Racism and Bias Initiative (RBI), and find new ways to collaborate.
In the Admissions Sphere, steps have been taken to build upon the first change target: to reflect on and broaden the education and training of the admissions committee to continually engage in admissions work from an equity lens. During the most recent application cycle, the MD admissions committee consisted of 50 faculty members and 30 medical students and the MD/PhD admissions committee consisted of 32 faculty members and 4 medical students. All committee members attended an in-person orientation session which included trainings on topics such as unconscious bias and diversity as a driver for excellence. Additionally, the admissions sphere developed an equity handbook which has been in use for the past application cycle along with the “Time-In” to Learning tool for effectively addressing instances of racism and bias as they occur. They’ve begun gathering data surrounding the atmosphere around racism and bias amongst the committee members through the DEI form and committee climate surveys, finding that POC on the admissions committees have started to feel more comfortable talking openly about racism and bias with other committee members. In October, the admissions sphere is holding a retreat with the aim of finding more opportunities for collaboration with several pathway programs.
In the Clinical Sphere, they have updated their change target to focus on the entire Mount Sinai Health System rather than limiting it to the Pediatrics Department. This decision was made to accommodate for increased interest and momentum across the health system after the death of George Floyd last year. Within Pediatrics, they have completed five department-specific Chats for Change including their most recent one on reporting racist events to compliance which took place in June. Their chat in July focused on alternatives to reporting. Across these departmental programs, they’ve had over 200 attendees with numbers steadily decreasing with each event.
Despite this decrease in attendance, they have committed to continuing hosting these sessions. As of February, the reporting system has received 19 compliance reports regarding racism and bias within the past 6 months. Although the cause of this spike is unclear, the number is an increase from the 31 total reports for all of 2020. Ultimately, they can see the perception of the clinical sphere changing as more sub-clinical departments are beginning to show interest in starting their own initiatives and using the sphere as a resource.
In the Curricular Sphere, a new Medical Education Program Objective (MEPO) has been developed to address racism and bias. Set to roll out next month, the MEPO states, “Upon graduating, students should be able to demonstrate approaches to mitigate the manifestations of racism, bias, and social inequities in healthcare.” In order to fulfill this MEPO, Curriculum Affairs will assess the inventory of racism and bias curricular offerings and communicate with stakeholders about the change.
Additionally, the sphere met with ODI, national leaders, and a medical illustrator to develop a specialized patient session on navigating racist patients and/or colleagues during clinical encounters for both UME and GME. They also aim to diversify patient representation across all courses by creating a HIPAA compliant image database in collaboration with dermatology resident Dr. Krystal Mitchell-Gba and clerkship students.
Student Affairs Sphere
In the Students Affairs Sphere, we are working to adopt and support advising practices by Learning Community advisors that actively address racism and promote equity. We are proud to have developed a community of practice amongst our faculty advisors. Additionally, we have collaborated with the student sphere to collect feedback from students about their advising experiences and hope to analyze this data as our next step. We’ve also conducted faculty development training sessions on appreciative advising and crating our advising blueprint for the upcoming year. We look to continue this work by adding a new change target focused on implementing new anti-racism communication strategies for our faculty advisors to utilize with their students.
In the Student Sphere, they have been focused on understanding the barriers and mediators to student engagement in anti-racist work and developing potential interventions to increase student participation in addressing racism. Thus far, they have hosted monthly racial healing circles since June of 2020, collected engagement data via the student council comprehensive survey, created the Participatory Decision-Making Guide with the MSHS task force to address racism, and facilitated collaborations between groups like Student Council and SNMA. As they begin to analyze the data from the survey, they hope that it will provide more information about student engagement, identify gaps in knowledge in the student body, quantify representation from different student categories, and serve as a baseline to examine longitudinal effects.
While much progress has been made, the students have come across challenges in promoting anti-racism as a value in medicine, increasing the visibility of our work, and maintaining student involvement. They have succeeded, however, in building a community of practice among students and creating space for conversation. They hope to continue this work by implementing healing circles for the clinical years and partnering with other medical schools on the new Anti-Racism in Medical Education program that was recently funded by the Macy Foundation.
Student Resources Sphere
In the Student Resources Sphere, we’ve developed an equity lens decision-making playbook and will be using outcome mapping to monitor the changes that result from its use. There was also work put into developing three one hour equity workshops that will be attended throughout the year by “equity champions” elected from different departments. These identified “equity champions” will attend the workshops, bring the knowledge back to their respective units, and give status update on the changes being seen during several report out sessions. It’s been challenging to implement some of our equity-based strategies as it can be difficult for individuals to pushback against the workplace status quo. Many have also voiced that they believe their individual influence is limited and they cannot directly link changes they see to our ongoing equity lens work. Fortunately, we have started to develop a community of practice and are seeing increased interest and active engagement from a diverse group people.
For more information about the on-going focused work within the spheres, check out the Change Targets tracker and our latest release of the RBI Action Updates.
This post was written by:
Strategy and Equity Education Summer Program Intern