URMC Unveils Equity and Anti-Racism Action Plan

Oct. 7, 2020
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The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) today released its Equity and Anti-Racism Action Plan, a five-year effort to strengthen diversity and inclusion at the Medical Center, address inequities in patient care and reduce health disparities in the Rochester community.

“Our intent is to lift everyone up to become their best and healthiest selves, regardless of their identity or the challenges they face,” said Mark Taubman, M.D., CEO of URMC. “These have long been goals of the Medical Center, but now we’ve put a leadership structure and accountability measures in place to ensure we make progress.”

The plan is the product of a process that began in June, when Taubman acknowledged “the imperative for leadership to move immediately from rhetoric to action in supporting people of color” after participating in the Medical Center’s White Coats for Black Lives demonstration. Shortly thereafter, Taubman and University of Rochester President Sarah Mangelsdorf joined in signing a declaration that racism is a public health crisis

To gather input for the plan, Medical Center leaders—including Adrienne Morgan, Ph.D., who in June was appointed senior associate dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion—met with individual students, trainees, faculty, and staff, and organizations such as the Alliance for Diversity in Science and Engineering, Association of Minority Residents and Fellows, Black Physicians Network, Diversity and Inclusion Executive Committee, Student National Medical Association and White Coats for Black Lives.

“We want to express our gratitude to everyone who stepped forward, shared their truths, and offered candid counsel,” said Morgan, one of the chief architects of the plan.  “Their collaboration and input has shaped the URMC’s Equity & Anti-Racism Action Plan. Moving forward, these groups and many others will be at the table to help us improve our efforts and hold us accountable.”

Build, Recruit, Nurture, Exemplify, and Engage

The Equity and Anti-Racism Action Plan outlines clear strategies and actions that will strengthen diversity across the Medical Center, identifies accountable leaders, sets metrics for measuring progress, and assures transparency through regular reporting mechanisms. 

“The Medical Center will provide the support, training, and resources people need to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive culture,” said Kathy Gallucci, URMC vice president of Human Resources. “As the plan’s goals are achieved, we fully expect to strengthen performance across our education, research, and clinical care missions.”

The Equity and Anti-Racism Action Plan’s objectives and actions are organized under five goals:

  • Build the infrastructure through creation of department and program-level diversity and inclusion plans, with annual progress reports; designation of trained and certified diversity officers to support the departmental plans; and extensive leadership training.
  • Recruit a more diverse faculty, student body, and workforce through the enhancement of pipeline programs for students considering a career in health and science; creation of a central recruitment function to increase diversity in candidate pools for faculty and leadership positions; plus development of career tracks and support programs to increase retention.
  • Nurture a respectful environment where everyone feels welcome and supported, through development of a new University antiracism statement; building awareness of different cultures, ethnicities, and traditions; and teaching equity and inclusion across Medical Center classrooms and labs.
  • Exemplify inclusion through diversity in artwork and displays in common areas; improving accessibility of diversity and inclusion resources on the URMC website; and converting the former office of Dr. George Hoyt Whipple—a Nobel prize winner and first dean of URMC’s medical school, who engaged in exclusionary hiring and admissions practices—from a museum space to a multicultural space used by today’s students.
  • Engage in equitable health care by taking steps to treat every patient the same, regardless of identity or zip code; working with community partners to identify and address barriers to care, and using research in health disparities to inform and improve the way URMC delivers services.

Taubman cites numerous studies demonstrating that health care and research institutions that embrace diversity generate more impactful science, are more innovative, and deliver better care to their communities. 

“Over the next five years, the Medical Center will become a more diverse and inclusive institution, comprised of students and faculty from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences,” said Taubman.  “By improving access to care and preventive services for those who need it most and providing culturally-sensitive care to patients of all racial, ethnic, or gender identities, we will improve the health of our community as a whole and make significant and measurable progress in addressing the health disparities in our community."

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