Diversity Matters: Diversity Awareness Month

August 23, 2017  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership,

August is Diversity Awareness Month, a great opportunity to celebrate — and take steps to enhance — the diverse community that makes Michigan Medicine an enriching place to work and study.

As part of the university’s five-year Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategic plan, many members of the Michigan Medicine community are already working hard to create a culture where everyone’s unique background and viewpoint is valued and respected.

One such person is Alena Stocking, a DE&I implementation lead for the U-M Medical School Administration (MSA). Stocking is a member of her department’s diversity task force, which meets quarterly to discuss ideas and activities that promote diversity within MSA.

“We take sort of a ‘best practices’ approach to DE&I,” Stocking said. “Because our department is so large, many of us are able to try different things and figure out what is effective and what isn’t.”

For instance, her department has offered movie screenings and discussions on films such as Hidden Figures and Zootopia, films that each touch on important diversity issues. There are also monthly lunch-and-learn events featuring guest speakers like Marwa Ayyash, a second-year med student who discusses issues about her faith through an initiative she calls “Ask a Muslim.”

MSA also offers book clubs, seminars and training sessions throughout the year.

Global REACH is another department that has taken a proactive approach to DE&I. The department — in partnership with Global Health & Disparities (GHD) curriculum path leaders — recently earned an award from U-M’s National Center for Institutional Diversity to fund a study of the cross-cultural skills of students engaged in low-resource settings both at home and across the world.

“This project will help us ensure that we are adequately preparing students to productively communicate across cultures,” said Brent Williams, professor of internal medicine and director of GHD.

That project is set to kick-off this fall in tandem with new cross-cultural training initiatives for medical students preparing to engage in low-resource settings either domestically or abroad.

“Part of our mission is to prepare all future physicians to practice in an increasingly diverse world,” added Jason Bell, assistant professor of ob/gyn and longtime faculty advisor for GHD. “I am confident that our students and faculty mentors will benefit from this grant.”

Get involved

Help promote diversity, equity and inclusion in your unit or department by taking advantage of the following opportunities:

The Office for Health Equity & Inclusion is currently accepting applications for mini-grants — valued up to $5,000 — that are designed to acknowledge, inform, reinvigorate and refocus departmental and unit efforts on fostering a respectful environment.

Click here to submit a mini-grant application by Sept. 29.

The university also offers free workshops and programs to help individuals — or entire departments — learn about important diversity issues.

Upcoming workshops include:

  • Change it Up!: Attendees will gain bystander intervention skills to help make the U-M community more inclusive, respectful and safe.
  • Disability Awareness and Etiquette: Learn how to best understand and serve individuals with disabilities.
  • Intercultural Awareness: Gain a greater understanding of the cultural differences between countries and how “common sense” assumptions made about others can be flawed.
  • Unconscious Bias in Everyday Life: Examine how unconscious bias can affect one’s perceptions, decisions and interactions.

Click here for more information about the sessions, along with a schedule of when they are offered.

Remember, it’s up to everyone to make Michigan Medicine more open and welcoming to all. Thank you for playing your part!

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