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UA College of Medicine recognized for diversity efforts

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Tobey Schmidt | The Daily Wildcat

Third-year medical students Samantha Kops and Zechariah Franks walk to a lecture in the UA College of Medicine on Wednesday, Oct. 12. The college was recently honored with INSIGHT Into Diversity Magazine’s 2016 Health Professions High Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award.

The UA College of Medicine—Tucson received the 2016 Health Professions HEED Award from the INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

INSIGHT Into Diversity is a diversity-focused publication aimed at higher education and is currently the oldest and largest magazine in its niche. All accredited U.S. health profession schools have the opportunity to apply for the Health Professions HEED Award, and this is the first time the UA College of Medicine has won.

The director of the UA Health Sciences Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Lydia Kennedy, was in charge of the application for the award. A process which began toward the end of June, said Charles Cairns, dean of the College of Medicine.

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“We’re very grateful for her enthusiasm and support of all the college’s diversity efforts and activities,” Cairns said. “She worked with a number of departments and people to complete the extensive application.”

Programs such as the Pre-Medical Admissions Pathway, the Navajo Nation Future Physicians’ Scholarship Fund and the Border Latino and American Indian Summer Exposure to Research are a few of the programs Cairns listed that helped the college win the award.

Other programs include increasing faculty diversity, outreach programs for high school and undergraduate students and grants supporting the Native American Research and Training Center.

Lacy Manuelito, a cellular and molecular medicine graduate student, is the chair of the student diversity advisory committee. The committee acts as a liaison between the students and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Manuelito said the committee provides a student perspective of what the college needs in terms of support of the current and incoming diversity.

“It started with P-MAP, the Pre-Medical Admissions Pathway, and I think that has really helped kick start their initiative to increase diversity here at the school, not only ethnicity but experiences in general,” Manuelito said.

She said the clubs have done a great deal to push diversity and inclusion.

Manuelito was born on a reservation, and she explained that coming to the UA is nothing like where she grew up. The diversity helped her differentiate between traditional and nontraditional views.

Dr. Francisco Moreno, deputy dean for diversity and inclusion, was in charge of overseeing and facilitating the efforts related to supporting individuals that are working with diversity and inclusion with the college for the award.

Moreno believes the college looks at diversity and inclusion as essential values that permeate all its activities, from recruitment and preparation to selection and admissions.

“I think [the award] is a validation and recognition of the outstanding commitment that the College of Medicine has made now for at least four years,” Moreno said.

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Moreno said they are hoping to partner with all of the UA Health Sciences colleges to see how they can support and optimize diversity promotion and the inclusion of values.

“We are creating a lot of very good momentum on campus, and I think we are one additional player that contributes to that overall conversation,” Moreno said.

Manuelito hopes to see more information and services about the different types of healthcare systems in the future.

The college has recently started to establish a LGBTQ interest group for the college’s faculty, according to Cairns. They are also expanding SafeZone training programs.

“It’s an honor to be recognized for the work that we’re doing to increase diversity and improve inclusion in our programs,” Cairns said. “Receiving outside recognition for creating an inclusive environment and embracing diversity reaffirms that we’re on the right track and helps us continue to build diversity in our programs.”


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