Creating a Diversity Cabinet: Enabling Partnerships Across the Medical School Continuum

Background

Diversity activities at Stanford University School of Medicine are widespread and integrated into medical education curriculum, graduate education and graduate medical education student activities, as well as career development opportunities for faculty. This approach, in contrast to diversity efforts managed through one central location, is based on the philosophy that diversity and inclusion should be integrated directly into each trainee and faculty community. However, the approach can also lead to challenges related to duplication of efforts, communication of activities across the spectrum, and a lack of formalized interaction with senior leadership to ensure that diversity underlies each aspect of the academic medical center. We developed an approach to an integrated communication strategy to identify opportunities to leverage diversity partnerships.

The Approach

In 2014, a Stanford Medicine Diversity Cabinet was convened to review and coordinate diversity activities across the School of Medicine continuum and to share best practices as well as lessons learned. The Cabinet was comprised of representatives from the following educational units at the School: medical student admissions, medical student affairs, medical education, graduate medical education, graduate education, postdoctoral affairs, and faculty diversity in addition to membership from other leadership groups representing the Center of Excellence for Diversity in Medical Education, LGBTQ affairs, women in academic medicine, and school-wide diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Cabinet Goals

  1. To advise the Dean and School leadership on diversity and inclusion issues.
  2. To play a key role in communicating and disseminating the School’s diversity and inclusion programs, initiatives, and priorities to the broader community.
  3. To coordinate among its members the activities supporting diversity in stakeholder units.
  4. To advocate for diversity and inclusion within the school.

The Cabinet meets monthly during the academic year and its two co-chairs discuss Cabinet matters regularly with the School’s senior leadership and directly with the Dean. 

Organizational Impact

In May 2017, the Cabinet was given a formal Charge by the Dean. The specific duties outlined within the Charge include reviewing and recommending actions to the Dean as regards the following:

  1. Developing and monitoring of the School of Medicine diversity strategic plan.
  2. Contributing to the School’s initiatives on diversity. Providing insight on the role of diversity across the school’s broader initiatives.
  3. Reporting to School leadership, Dean, Vice Dean and Senior Associate Deans, on issues related to diversity and inclusion.  This includes recommendations of responses to crises and providing safe space.
  4. Engaging stakeholder groups, including medical students, graduate students, postdoctoral students, residents, fellows, and faculty, through formal and informal channels to maintain continual awareness of their needs.
  5. Disseminating, coordinating and collaborating on activities across Cabinet constituent member groups.
  6. Assisting the Dean in developing novel approaches to highlight diversity and inclusion in the School through internal and external strategic communications.

Conclusion

Institutional structures related to diversity vary as to how centralized or decentralized they are within the organizational system. When accountability for diversity is dispersed, it can normalize diversity to be a part of everyday activities for relevant trainee and faculty groups in academic medicine. However, this may come at the cost of effective communication surrounding diversity activities, coordination of efforts across groups, and formal interaction with senior leadership on diversity-related issues. In this type of situation, a Diversity Cabinet, comprised of leadership from all constituent academic groups and empowered by the Dean, may be able to serve this role while each cabinet member maintains oversight over their specific unit.

This model may ensure diversity and inclusion activities are cohesive, aligned, and communicated across groups within an organizational system. Ongoing assessment will demonstrate the impact of the Diversity Cabinet on advancing common goals in a collaborative and impactful way.

Suggestion Box

This box is available for making suggestions and offering ideas that people would like the Diversity Cabinet to be aware of.

Diversity Cabinet Members

Co-Chair, Yvonne Maldonado

Senior Associate Dean, Office of Faculty Development and Diversity; Professor, Pediatrics

Co-Chair Fernando Mendoza, MD

Associate Dean, Minority Advising and Programs; Professor, Pediatrics

Laura Bachrach, MD

Associate Residency Program Director; Professor Pediatrics

Cori Bossenberry

Associate Dean, Human Resources

Alan Ceaser

Postdoc and Representative, Stanford University Postdoctoral Association (SURPAS)

Magali Fassiotto, PhD

Assistant Dean, Office of Faculty Development and Diversity

Ronald Garcia, PhD

Assistant Dean, Minority Affairs

Neil Gesundheit, MD, MPH

Senior Associate Dean, Medical Education and Professor, Medicine (Endocrinology)

Dr. Iris Gibbs, MD

Associate Dean, MD Admissions; Professor, Radiation Oncology

 

Larry Katznelson, MD

Associate Dean, Graduate Medical Education; Professor, Neurosurgery and Medicine (Endocrinology)

Sofie Kleppner, PhD

Associate Dean, Office of Postdoctoral Affairs

Jim Lock, MD, PhD

Associate Chair and Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Science

 

Ioana Marin

Stanford University Postdoctoral Association (SURPAS) Representative

Paloma Marin Nevarez

Medical Student and President, Stanford University Minority Medical Alliance (SUMMA)

Alejandro Martinez, PhD

Senior Associate Director, Consultation and Liaison, CAPS

Carlos Medina

BioAIMS Representative

Mijiza Sanchez, MPA, Ed.D

Associate Dean, Office of Medical Student Affairs

 

Ripal Shah

Chair of the Chief Residents' Council

Marcia Stefanick, PhD

Director, Co-founder, Stanford WSDN Center; Professor, Medicine and OB/GYN