After nearly a year of planning, the next step in a growing movement at RVU to support diversity on campus came to fruition with the Racial Equity Institute’s (REI) Groundwater Diversity Training, an event hosted by RVU’s Diversity Committee. The training, presented by Deena Hayes-Greene and Monica F. Walker of REI, brought together students, faculty and staff to learn about racial inequity in the United States and its impact on medical education and the healthcare profession. For Elizabeth Kuge, OMS II, the training’s focus on systemic racism was an important reminder that inherent biases against race still exist. “We need to be better in recognizing [those] biases and confront them, not only for our future patients, but also for ourselves and everyone we encounter,” she said. “[The training] strengthened my conviction to fight against systemic racism and support minorities of all backgrounds.”
The idea to hold a foundational training for the RVU community was first pitched in meetings between a group of diverse medical students and the RVU administration. These students shared their concerns about the lack of diversity in both the student population and staff and the lack of education on biases and prejudices. Mindful of RVU as a national leader in healthcare education, students saw a dire need to incorporate racial equity into their medical training in anticipation of serving diverse and underrepresented populations in the future, and for RVU to support students of color while on campus.
Shortly after the training, the Diversity Committee saw even more interest in increasing diversity at RVU including inquiries from students and staff about future planned events and how to take the movement to the next level. “The success…of this movement is due to the action of both the student body and administration,” said Hannah Chong, OMS II, member of the Diversity Committee. “It is my hope that this partnership will continue for years to come in order to enact lasting change.”
Other initiatives in the past year were the Student National Medical Association’s diversity campaigns, such as Pride Month and Black History Month. The Trauma-Informed Care Program, spearheaded by Kelsey Boghean, OMS III, hosted a program that focused on providing effective healthcare for patients of the LGBTQ+ community, victims of sexual assault, and those who have experienced adverse childhood events.