Committee on Diversity, Inclusion, and Cultural Competence

In May 2020, video footage capturing the cruelty of George Floyd’s murder spurred a nation-wide uprising, as his name became synonymous with a cry for racial justice. Coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic, this horrific yet not uncommon killing of a Black man by a police officer re-focused global attention to racism—one of the greatest public health emergencies facing us today. As a division that serves patients in the Bronx, which is among the most ethnically diverse areas in the nation and birthplace of urban Black culture, we believe it is our duty to stand alongside our community as advocates for social change and health equality.

To this end, in June 2020, faculty-members, Dr. Beth McLellan, Dr. Caroline Halverstam, and Dr. Ramone Williams, as well as second-year residents, Dr. Rithu Srikantha and Dr. Lavanya Mittal established the Committee on Diversity, Inclusion, and Cultural Competence. In line with the mission statement of our division, the visions of the committee are three-fold:

  1. to promote diversity in the recruitment of our members,
  2. to foster inclusiveness that embraces differing perspectives,
  3. and to formalize a curriculum that enables faculty and residents to develop the knowledge, practices, attitudes, and values that are essential to working effectively with individuals from different cultural backgrounds.

Our efforts are aimed towards sustaining topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in our didactic curriculum, research projects, and community outreach, as well as maintaining support systems for minority students, residents, and faculty. We have quarterly meetings to advance our efforts some of which have included: an orientation lecture discussing the history of the Bronx and its immigrant communities, implicit bias training, regular topics in grand rounds focused on racial inequalities in healthcare and skin of color, and relevant journal clubs. We have a book club which includes residents and faculty. Many of our residents and faculty members are involved in mentorship of local youth as well as URiM medical students at Einstein and beyond.

In the near future, we also hope to invite individuals from highly represented immigrant communities in our patient population—such as Albanian, Bengali, and Dominican—to teach our faculty and residents about healthcare beliefs and practices that are unique to their cultures.

It is our hope that these evolving efforts enable our division to embrace the richness of our community’s cultural, linguistic, socio-economic, and racial diversity while providing compassionate care that honors and respects these differences both in our patients and amongst our current and future team members.