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Frontliners: Social Justice

SGIM is honoring our members at the front lines of Social Justice with our  member highlight series, "Frontliners: Social Justice". Are you or anyone you know at the front lines of Social Justice? Contact us with the subject “Frontliners: Social Justice” to have your story told.

Areeba Kara MD, MS, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine, IUSM, Associate Division Chief Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics and Curtis Wright MD, MBA, Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine, IUSM, Associate Program Director, IM Residency Program

Q: Our members may be familiar with DEI efforts, but what are the DEIJ efforts at the center of your workshop?
A: Our workshop is designed to mirror the sequence often used in DEIJ work. We start with how to successfully structure and lead a DEIJ committee to ensure member engagement, obtain incremental victories, and maintain positive momentum. We then review the pitfalls to avoid and best practices to engage while crafting a mission statement to serve as a guiding light. Following this, we review our institution’s strategy and framework for advancing DEIJ efforts and then describe one specific strategy centered around how to create a DEIJ toolbox. We close with brainstorming on how to create a community within internal medicine to move this work forward.

Q: How was the Graduation Medical Education DEIJ Committee at Indiana University formed and why did you both choose to join?
A: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. The Black Lives Matter movement. The inequities made more apparent by the COVID-19 pandemic. These moments heightened awareness of structural racism, race-related disparities in healthcare, and a need to diversify the healthcare workforce. Our institution responded. The Designated Institutional Officer called for the formation of a committee that is charged with developing programs and processes to address the DEIJ needs of our graduate medical education programs and fulfilling the ACGME core program requirements surrounding diversity and health care disparity teaching.

Curtis: I chose to join because I felt that we had reached a critical moment in time where we had the support (monetarily and philosophically) from key leadership and stakeholders to finally make substantive changes regarding DEIJ. Furthermore, I knew that I could not sit on the sidelines and not be a part of this important work.

Areeba: As an immigrant, female physician - I want to help create a better world for my own family and every other family out there. As representatives of a privileged set of professionals entrusted to protect health and lives- if not us, then who else is better positioned to make a difference? As my understanding of the problems has grown, so has my desire to be a part of the solution. So here I am!

Q: What is the GME Diversity Framework?
A:The GME diversity framework is a construct to conceptualize both the goals of our work and a longitudinal strategy for achieving them. Our School of Medicine has identified four key pillars of diversity which include representational diversity, inclusive environment, cultural humility, and anti-racism. The framework broadens these pillars to include evidence-based tactics to achieve these goals. We focus on pathway programs, holistic recruitment, retention planning, specific training, and development, (e.g., anti-bias, microaggressions), policy revisions, and evolving science. Further, the framework suggests how these core goals might develop over time.

Q: Why is the recruitment process of a DEIJ committee so important?
A: Holistic recruitment is essential to successfully matching with diverse applicants. GME programs and businesses in various fields have acknowledged that the way candidates are filtered out can be subject to bias, structural racism, and inequitable practices. To set diversity as a priority means concerted pipeline development outside of recruitment “season,” training of all faculty and staff involved in the process, holistic review of all applicants, structured interviews, and scoring, and continually studying the process to make improvements.

Q: You talk about the importance of making short, intermediate, and long-term goals. Can you give an example of each from your DEIJ committee?
A: In the short term, we refined an existing system for the reporting of mistreatment- we clarified definitions and created expectations for feedback. We reviewed surveys to ensure utilization of gender, race, and ethnicity inclusive language. For the intermediate term, we created a toolbox to help program directors with inclusive recruiting and created mechanisms to assess our GME recruiting practices. For the long-term, we are developing an infrastructure to track data longitudinally and create a shared understanding of priorities across learners, physician practices, health systems, patients, and our communities.

We do this work to realize our mission statement – to create an institution where everyone thrives and feels seen, where we are recognized leaders in diversity and equity in patient care, scholarship, education, and advocacy – and where we are proud of the role we all play in moving the world forward.

Q: How can SGIM members access your framework and toolkit for building their own institution’s DEIJ committees?
A: Our framework and toolkit can be accessed at:, Our work on GME DEIJ committees can be found here.

Rahul Vanjani, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Brown University

Michele Heisler, MD, MPH, Professor of Internal Medicine and Public Health at the University of Michigan and Medical Director of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR)

Heather Whelan, MD, Professor of Clinical Medicine, UCSF/San Francisco VA Medical Center

Lucille M. Torres-Deas, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Amy H Farkas, MD MS Assistant Professor of Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin and Milwaukee VA Medical Center

Divya Venkat, MD: Co-Director of CIH RIvER Clinic

Joanne Bernstein, MD, MSE, Assistant Professor, Medical College of Wisconsin

Elizabeth Davis, MD; Medical Director of Community Health Equity, Rush University Medical Center. @LizDavisMD

Jonathan Ross, MD, MS, Assistant Professor of General Internal Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center

Dr. Celeste Newby, MD, PhD, FACP, Academic hospitalist, Assistant Professor, John W.Deming Department of Medicine, Tulane University School of Medicine
Dr. Lamar K. Johnson, MD, Academic Hospitalist, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, Christiana Care/Sidney Kimmel Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University

Rita Lee, MD, Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine

Hannah Lichtsinn, MD, FAAP, Internal Medicine and Sickle Cell, Hennepin Healthcare and Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Minnesota

Dr. Sarah Kimball, Co-Director of the Immigrant & Refugee Health Center at Boston Medical Center

Dr. James Hudspeth, Director of the Global Health Pathway

Dr. Galina Tan, Internal Medicine primary care physician at Cambridge Health Alliance and instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School

Dr. Michelle Ogunwole, General Internal Medicine Fellow at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine