Albert Einstein College of Medicine Receives National Diversity Award

November 3, 2021—(BRONX, NY)—Albert Einstein College of Medicine has received a 2021 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. Einstein is one of 51 U.S. medical schools, health colleges, and universities selected for this honor, which recognizes institutions that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. The awardees will be featured in the December 2021 issue of the magazine.

Gordon F. Tomaselli, M.D.

Gordon Tomaselli, M.D.

“We are honored to be selected for this distinction,” said Gordon F. Tomaselli, M.D., the Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz Dean at Einstein and executive vice president and chief academic officer at Montefiore Medicine. “I applaud all our faculty, students, and staff who have worked tirelessly to improve the experience, representation, and success of individuals in our community from groups historically underrepresented in medicine and science.”

Einstein’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts include a wide array of programs and initiatives developed by a range of offices and departments across campus that support students, from middle and high school through medical school, as well as the College of Medicine’s faculty and employees, and the local community.

“Creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment is a team effort,” said Nerys Benfield, M.D., senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion at Einstein. “It requires the dedication of our entire community to live up to Einstein’s promise of providing an environment that truly embraces and supports diversity. This award is both a testament to the hard work of our colleagues over many years, as well as a motivation to push for greater success.”

Nerys C. Benfield, M.D.

Nerys Benfield, Ph.D.

Key efforts that support DEI initiatives at Einstein include:

  • Einstein Enrichment Program (EEP). This career pathway program, now in its 32nd year, serves high-achieving students in 7th through 12th grade who are economically disadvantaged or who have been historically underrepresented in the medical and scientific professions (URM) to pursue careers in health, medicine, and science. EEP, which is administered by the office of diversity and inclusion, was awarded Insight Into Diversity’s Inspiring Programs in STEM award for the past three years and offers test-prep classes, hands-on experiences, and summer internship placements with stipends.
  • Educational program objectives (EPOs) specific to anti-bias and antiracism. Created by the office of medical education, new EPOs ensure M.D. students are assessed on a range of important skills, including their understanding of how bias negatively affects interpersonal encounters and patient outcomes, commitment to managing their own biases, and recognition that race is a social, not biological, construct. Students also learn how to analyze the impact of behavioral, social, and structural factors—including racism, racial inequity, poverty, environment, and public policy—on the health of diverse patient populations and how they lead to health disparities.
  • DEI educational opportunities for faculty and staff. The Montefiore Learning Network offers educational opportunities related to DEI, including newly developed courses and workshops on: anti-racism, equity, and inclusion in a diverse workspace; understanding bias and increasing empathy and curiosity; the importance of diversity and a variety of strategies for promoting a respectful workplace, responding to harassment, discrimination, and retaliation in the workplace; and facilitated group discussions on topics of identity and structural racism in healthcare.
  • Einstein’s MLK Service Challenge. The College of Medicine embraced the federal MLK Day of Service holiday by extending it to a full week. In 2021, Einstein offered in-person and virtual opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to serve the Bronx community. Human resources allowed employees two hours of paid time off to participate in a service opportunity that week, whether through Einstein or another volunteer organization of the individual’s own choosing. Following the event, participants were able to reflect on their experiences through a discussion about MLK’s legacy.

“I applaud all our faculty, students, and staff who have worked tirelessly to improve the experience, representation, and success of individuals in our community from groups historically underrepresented in medicine and science.”

Dean Gordon F. Tomaselli

Additional initiatives include:

  • A medical curriculum transformation that includes the expansion of anti-bias and “upstander” education during orientation week, workshops given to third-year students as they transition to their clerkships, and a greatly expanded course on population health sciences that has an explicit focus on identifying and mitigating health disparities.
  • The Sexual and Gender Minority Grand Rounds is a monthly lecture series developed in 2021 to offer education on LGBTQIA+ healthcare.
  • Faculty and leadership search guidelines, which include recommendations that search committees be diverse, appoint a search committee diversity officer, and undergo anti-bias and inclusive excellence training.
  • A “second-look” program, allowing accepted URM applicants to meet with current Einstein URM students and faculty to engage in authentic discussions.
  • Increased collaboration with local physician groups, such as the Westchester Bronx Society of Black Physicians.
  • A diversity lounge on campus, creating a space for meeting and conversation.
  • Close ties with the National Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA), including hosting the northeast regional conference in February 2020.
  • Expanding unified summer programs, including the Summer Undergraduate Mentorship Program in the Hispanic Center of Excellence and the Diversity Student Summer Research Program, to ensure opportunities continued during the pandemic.
  • Faces of Einstein series, which highlights students, employees, and alumni of Montefiore and Einstein who represent a diversity of heritage and experience, especially those whose voices have been historically marginalized.