WASHINGTON (TND) — Medical schools across the United States are offering incentives to departments and faculty that promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), according to a new report from the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC).
An AAMC initiative aims to assist medical schools with improving their culture and climate through its Diversity, Inclusion, Culture and Equity (DICE) Inventory. The DICE Inventory tool is a way for a school to review all of its policies, practices, procedures and programs and identify strengths and weaknesses pertaining to DEI.
A November report titled "The Power of Collective Action: Assessing and Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Efforts at AAMC Medical Schools" reveals the progress of 101 AAMC-member medical schools that use DICE Inventory. Nearly 60% achieved DICE Inventory scores above 80%, meaning they are making satisfactory progress towards hitting diversity targets, and a breakdown of the findings shows what led to those results.
Nearly 36% of the 101 institutions indicated they "have performance incentives for schools or departments to achieve diversity, inclusion and equity goals." Just shy of 40% have processes in place to assess staff candidates' contributions to DEI, with one example being "requiring candidates to submit a diversity statement."
AAMC-member medical schools appear to strive to motivate employees to devote time and effort to DEI. The tenure and promotion policies of 43.6% "specifically reward faculty scholarship and service on diversity, inclusion and equity topics." This can include research or clinical practice focused on outreach to underrepresented communities.
More than half of the institutions also have a "staff service award" in place to "recognize contributions" to DEI. The report does not detail what forms of awards are offered.
The diversity efforts are seemingly not limited to just faculty. Each of the 101 institutions reported that they have implemented admission policies and practices to "encourage" a diverse student population.
“We thought we knew what we, as an academic medical community, were doing well, and it was confirmed in the data," co-author Malika Fair, MD, MPH said of the findings. "...conversely, it wasn’t as obvious before what some of the challenges were. Now we know where to focus our attention and how we can assist our member institutions."
One goal of AAMC following this report is for more member institutions to make their demographic data readily available to campus communities.
AAMC's mission to focus more on DEI has previously been criticized. The National Association of Scholars argues it will "hamper free expression, politicize medical education, encourage physicians to engage in misbegotten activism, and in the longer run, lead to substantively harmful policies."
Others have supported it, with some calling the concept "an effective way to develop culturally responsive competencies in future physicians."
The approach taken by AAMC may be having an impact, as a significant increase in diverse applicants was reported last year.
“The AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) and our member medical schools and teaching hospitals have an obligation to address the factors that drive racism and bias in health care and prepare physicians who are culturally responsive," AAMC Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer David Acosta, MD, tells The National Desk (TND). "There is strong evidence that historically marginalized people and people who live in poverty disproportionately experience poor health and inadequate access to quality care. These inequities are often rooted in systemic discrimination, including racism, within the nation’s health systems that contributes to lower quality care."
AAMC says AAMC-member schools intend to use their DICE Inventory findings to "begin making policy changes, inform their strategic planning, and support LCME accreditation documentation and ongoing improvement efforts.”