DEI and Training
The Education Team believes that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are central to its instructional mission. Our commitment lives in our student recruitment and admissions efforts, contributions to departmental culture, and outreach and community-building initiatives.
To recruit the most diverse group of students, we actively engage with candidates at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and at the annual McNair Research Fair for first-generation college students. In support of these efforts, the department dedicates 25% of tuition revenues to scholarships for those with a variety of demonstrated needs, and our admissions process is defined by a DEI focus, including a holistic application evaluation and optional GRE score submission. We have also created an equity-minded candidate assessment for application review, which includes at least one representative from the department's DEI Committee.
We have an inclusive departmental culture—our research is often centered on underrepresented groups, and DEI foundational trainings are required of first-year students. We have also woven DEI throughout our BRIDGE (Building Research Inclusion and Diversity in Graduate Education) program that mentors and supports a diverse and talented workforce equipped to improve population health. And to foster community building, we connect our international students with groups across campus that provide support services and in-house resources developed specifically for their needs.
In summary, the Education Team helps strengthen the department’s educational efforts by building and supporting instructional programs that value our diverse life histories and experiences and that recognize and amplify the unique contributions of all individuals.
DEI and Research
Our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) extends to our department’s research and strengthens it in several ways. First, building a welcoming home for all our researchers (faculty and staff) enriches the perspectives we bring and methods we use. Second, the pursuit of health equity and understanding the systemic forces that undermine it, leads to research that can reduce health disparities. Third, a commitment to DEI improves how we interact with research participants, how we interact in our research teams, and how we direct resources needed for research.
We have built DEI into our research by targeting diverse populations in our studies, ensuring the cultural appropriateness of study materials, and training staff to engage research participants with respect and cultural sensitivity. Several of our teams are studying the extent and causes of health disparities—at the molecular, organ, and population levels. Our qualitative researchers are using novel approaches to hear the voices of diverse populations struggling with disease. Our health measurement researchers are working on ways to elicit people’s health experiences, including those with lower literacy and poorer access to healthcare facilities. Our implementation scientists are working to understand how to best implement effective health interventions in ways that are culturally appropriate and that will maximize uptake of beneficial interventions. Finally, we are partnering with local community members to better understand their most pressing health needs and to design and conduct research that addresses those needs.
DEI and Workforce
I am proud to say that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is not just a buzzword in our department—it is critically important to our success and integrated into almost everything we do. DEI informs our recruiting and hiring processes, helps us create and sustain a healthy work climate, and affects how we think about problems, solutions, and opportunities.
Staff, faculty, and trainees make up our 16-member DEI committee that is so active there is a waiting list to join. Nine DEI members, who happen to all be DPHS staff, created a sophisticated hiring toolkit comprised of equitable practices and processes which are being used across the department when filling job openings. This toolkit is also being piloted for deployment across the entire Duke University School of Medicine—an example of not only how DEI is integrated into our department, but also how we are leading the way in developing best practices that will shape the future of the university.
Our work to achieve DEI is never done. Thus, I would appreciate hearing from you on how we can further strengthen our practices in the Department of Population Health Sciences!
DEI and Faculty Development
Our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) extends to the department’s faculty development and career growth. First, we value and seek faculty with diverse perspectives, which benefits our professional community and research and allows us to have a richer and broader impact. Second, we believe that DEI is a cornerstone of our professionalism, exhibited in our work and interactions with our colleagues and community. And third, instilling DEI into faculty development helps us grow in ways that reflect our commitments to the diverse students and communities we serve.
We have incorporated DEI into our faculty development in several ways. For our research mentoring series, we partnered with our DEI Committee to highlight the skills and perspectives that may be less known but beneficial when mentoring colleagues who are traditionally under-represented in medicine. Also, in collaboration with the DEI Committee, we will offer workshops on identifying and addressing microaggressions in the workplace. The majority of our faculty professional development workshops are open to our staff—letting us learn together and share perspectives on professional development topics that elicit enriched conversations and shared frameworks for leadership and team management. We have coordinated with the BRIDGE program to identify the specific needs of incoming underrepresented minority (URM) learners. Finally, we encourage each faculty member to take advantage of the professional development opportunities offered by the School of Medicine through its LEADER, ALICE, and ADVANCE-Up programs and with external professional development opportunities that may dovetail with specific DEI needs and interests.