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UMass Chan, AAMC develop tool to measure diversity, inclusion in academic medicine

A new survey developed by researchers at UMass Medical School and the Association of American Medical Colleges has proven to be an effective tool for measuring an institution’s capacity and capability to include diverse groups as fully engaged members, according to a study published in Academic Medicine. Deborah Plummer, PhD, vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion, is an author on the study.

The Diversity Engagement Study is designed to gauge the progress of academic medical centers toward the goal of achieving a diverse community of faculty, staff and students.

“The instrument demonstrated to have value not only within educational settings, but that it could be successfully utilized in any institution that desires to build an engaged and inclusive workforce,” said Dr. Plummer

Marc Nivet, EdD, chief diversity officer at AAMC, added, “During this time of great transformation across all domains of health care and academic medicine, it is necessary for organizations to assess and build on their organizational capacity to adapt and innovate.”

“A business development strategy that doesn’t include a deliberate focus on culture will fall short in comparison to institutions that have figured out how to fully engage individuals at all levels,” Dr. Nivet said.

UMMS researchers Sharina Person, PhD, associate professor of quantitative health sciences; Jeroan Allison, MD, professor and vice chair of quantitative health sciences; and C. Greer Jordan, PhD, assistant professor of nursing, also contributed to the study.

The goal of the Diversity Engagement Survey is to describe the inclusiveness of the environment; define areas of strengths and improvement; and point to a strategic direction for change.

To meet the goals, the survey can be applied as a means to:

  • Build an inclusive culture that seeks to recruit, retain and promote diverse individuals;
  • Determine the level of engagement of the total organizational community in relationship to specific diverse groups;
  • Assess baseline strengths and areas for improvement related to inclusion and diversity efforts;
  • Determine progress toward inclusion goals in an institutional diversity plan;
  • Measure progress of diversity plans in response to regulatory agencies such as the Liaison Committee on Medical Education , the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program and the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion; and
  • Identify salient concerns such as historical baggage from stereotypes, social isolation, economic constraints, and the impact of few culturally competent role models and mentors for demographic groups within the organization.

Plummer said that the hope is that the survey will be standardized across all academic medical centers to continue to provide accurate metrics and benchmarks.