Alyson Myers, MD, has joined the Department of Medicine as the inaugural associate chair for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). She comes to us from North Shore University Hospital where she was an attending endocrinologist and medical director of Inpatient Diabetes and an associate professor of the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell.
We sat down with Dr. Myers to find out more about her plans.
Q. Our mandate is to design strategies for identifying, recruiting and retaining underrepresented minority (URM) candidates, as set forth in the Department of Medicine’s Strategic Plan. What have been your first steps?
A. When I interviewed for the job, a big part of it was talking about a deep needs assessment. I’ve been meeting with a lot of people here, starting with the division chiefs. I’ve also met with Dr. Nerys Benfield, the senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion for the medical school, and Dr. Elizabeth Kitsis, the vice chair of medicine for faculty affairs and professionalism for the Department of Medicine. Many more meetings are on my calendar. Right now we’re experiencing a period of high resignation. I think the most important thing is to understand what we can do to retain URM faculty and staff at Montefiore Einstein.
Q. How are you establishing a statistical baseline for the Department of Medicine?
A. I’m gathering data on the faculty level—finding faculty who are from different backgrounds, and seeing their level of rank. I also plan to do Zoom calls with residents where people can bring up topics and vocalize issues. I’m seeking to develop career development workshops, so people have the tools they need—things like public speaking, PowerPoint and social media branding. If you look through the literature in this area, mentoring and supporting career development are highly impactful.
Q. Do you have clinical responsibilities?
A. The DEI role is 50% of my time, and the remaining 50% is clinical. I’m an investigator on a PCORI grant looking at the use of telehealth in Latina/Latino populations with type 2 diabetes, which ends at the end of the year. My research background is in diabetes technology and diabetes disparities.
Q. Was it your diabetes disparity research that caused you to become deeply involved in diversity, equity and inclusion?
A. Disparity research is where those differences really come to light. For a lot of patients, when they see a doctor that looks like them, it matters. So you need to get more people that look like them into medical schools to become doctors. And those medical students also want to see faculty who look like them.
Q. What is your vision for the kind of place that Montefiore Einstein would be in an ideal world?
A. I think the most ideal situation would be to have a diverse group of providers that match a diverse group of patients. If we’re not reflective of the community, which is quite diverse in the Bronx, we need to do better at recruiting from leadership down to trainees.
Posted on: Thursday, March 31, 2022