On June 13, the head of the University of Rochester Medical Center told a rally organized by the Black Physicians Network that his institution recognizes “a special responsibility to help drive our own community’s transformation” away from structural racism.
On Oct. 7, Dr. Mark Taubman, chief executive officer of URMC, announced URMC’s Equity & Anti-Racism Action Plan.
The plan is the culmination of four months of input from students, trainees, faculty, staff and community.
The five-year plan reflects what Taubman said that day: URMC will improve the workplace for people of color, increase the number of Black physicians and provide more culturally competent care.
He said he would not be silent and that he would take action.
The Equity & Anti-Racism Action Plan calls for URMC to:
- build an anti-racism infrastructure in education, research and care;
- recruit people from diverse backgrounds and expand work opportunities for the least privileged;
- nurture a respectful learning and work environment;
- show inclusion in the use of campus space an online presence; and
- make care more accessible and reduce disparities through research, active listening and working with community partners.
“What will URMC look like in 2025,” he said at an online news conference. “Students and faculty from a wider range of backgrounds and experience. We will have patients of any race or ethnicity or gender identity receive care that is more culturally sensitive and perhaps from a provider who shares their identity.”
Differences in outcomes in illness such as high blood pressure and diabetes will be reduced, and overall health in the Rochester area will improve.
“All of this will take time,” he said. “It will not be easy. We are committed to doing the work necessary to make sure it occurs.”
Asked for comment about the plan, Dr. Linda Clark, president and co-founder of the Black Physicians Network, replied in a statement: “Authentic dialogue with communities of color and commitment to measuring progress are key to overcoming systemic racism. I applaud the University of Rochester for agreeing to accept the input and perspective of Black physicians; I am looking forward to the promised effort to recruit and retain Black and brown students, physicians, other health care workers, and those working at an executive level. I look forward, keeping our eyes on the prize, as we regularly review progress toward meeting these goals.”
Taubman, Adrienne L. Morgan, senior associate dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Kathleen Gallucci, vice president for Human Resources at the medical center and executive director for Human Resources at the University of Rochester, explained the plan.
Over the past few months, the medical center leadership has been responding to instances of racial injustice and the resultant calls for equity. Taubman spoke in June after the death of George Floyd. In September, he and Morgan responded to criticisms from White Coats for Black Lives at URMC over the medical center’s involvement in the case of Daniel Prude. Taubman and Morgan wrote that the Joint Commission, which accredits hospitals, is among agencies that are reviewing the medical center’s actions.
They’ve also spoken about the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, and URMC has signed the Black Agenda Group’s petition that racism is a public health issue.
Taubman said the medical center has provided care in socially and medically conscious ways, but the action plan focuses on healthcare disparities. He said there can’t be barriers that prevent people who need care from getting those treatments.
As for how deans and department heads will be held accountable, Morgan said URMC leadership is looking at innovative ways to measure success. Taubman said promotions could be tied to implementation of the plan.
As URMC pledged increased diversity, earlier efforts in medical education at UR have been acknowledged.
The UR School of Nursing announced that for the fourth consecutive year, it earned the Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.
The UR School of Nursing and the UR School of Medicine and Dentistry were among 46 health professions schools selected to receive the only national honor recognizing U.S. medical, dental, pharmacy, nursing, osteopathic, and allied health schools that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. The UR School of Nursing is one of only nine nursing schools to receive the award in 2020.
The School of Nursing’s most recent class in the Accelerated Bachelor’s Program for Non-Nurses included students from Nigeria, Mexico, Turkey, Jamaica and Ghana. Thirty-five percent of the new ABPNN students are from groups underrepresented in nursing, and 25 percent are male, approximately three times higher than the percentage of men in the nursing, according to the School of Nursing.