20:27 PM

Meaningful measures: Diversifying rheumatology workforce starts with the pipeline

Healio Rheumatology discusses the need to diversify the rheumatology workforce and suggested solutions for starting with the pipelines that feed medical schools, according to experts including S. Louis Bridges, Jr., MD, PhD, Physician-in-Chief, Chair of the Department of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Rheumatology at HSS.

“Having a more diverse workforce leads to all patients being more honest about any cultural beliefs that might influence their adherence to medications or health recommendations,” explained Dr. Bridges. “They feel more part of shared decision-making with their providers.”

“It has been recommended that medical schools put less emphasis on MCAT scores and GPA during the admissions process,” he noted. A companion approach would be to place less emphasis on board scores of applicants for residency and fellowship training slots. “Compassion, work ethic, empathy, commitment to service, perseverance and resiliency may be more highly considered,” said Dr. Bridges. “Fellowship and division directors should advocate for being more intentional in hiring non-white applicants.”

Targeted marketing of opportunities to medical residencies with a larger number of non-white trainees is another solution Dr. Bridges offered. “We need to change the way we relate to trainees and avoid stereotypes, as well as not tolerating racially or culturally insensitive behavior.” He added, “Academic institutions that train future rheumatologists must truly value minority faculty and trainees. This can be done by treating them as assets to the institution and avoiding isolation or disenfranchisement.”

Dr. Bridges referenced the recent formation of the American College of Rheumatology Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. The group has 11 members that will help to set a national agenda for addressing these issues in the subspecialty. “I believe that the rheumatology community is invested in this journey and I look forward to making a significant impact in this area,” he noted.

Dr. Bridges concluded by saying it is critical to take the momentum behind current movements and act. “There needs to be a sustained national plan to improve, with frequent adjustments and additional investments as needed along the way,” he said. “This effort requires resources that should be provided to make this a priority.”

Read the full article at Healio.com/news/rheumatology.