Minority Faculty ReceptionIn an increasingly global medical environment, the pursuit of excellence through diversity is not a simple accent to the medical profession – it is an imperative. In recognition of this growing reality, the UAB School of Medicine, the SOM’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion, and the office for Graduate Medical Education combined Second Look Weekend for prospective medical residents with the annual celebration of Diversity Day. The events were launched with a reception on the evening of February 4, which included a pre-reception gathering for minority resident applicants and a Minority Faculty Reception in the Gold Room at The Club.

Resident applicants in attendance were considering whether to complete their residencies in the department of their choice at UAB. Representatives of the Office for Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and the Office for Diversity and Inclusion mingled with faculty, trainees, and prospective trainees, sharing stories and answering questions. Muted lights, varied buffet offerings, and a wealth of attendees both within and without the School of Medicine all combined to create a friendly and social atmosphere.

Dr. Anupam Agarwal provided the welcome. “We are here to honor minority faculty,” he said, pointing out that while African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans comprise 25% of the population of the United States, only 9% of physicians come from these under-represented minorities. “In Alabama,” he said, given the state’s troubled racial history and the massive impact of racially-based health disparities, “this issue is of even greater significance.”

Dr. Mona Fouad echoed this sentiment. “Diversity and Inclusion is something we are taking seriously. Here in the heart of the Deep South, we need to represent our communities and address the issues of our communities. This year is special, because we have combined Diversity Day with Second Look weekend. We want you to come to UAB, and we believe that once you get here, you’ll want to stay.” She smiled. “It’s like the Hotel California.”

Dean of Medicine Selwyn Vickers explained the philosophy behind the School of Medicine’s efforts toward Diversity and Inclusion. “Diversity is about a lot of things,” he said, “but most of all, it’s about excellence.”

Prospective residents were encouraged and energized by the reception, its atmosphere, and its emphasis on professional development for all faculty and trainees. When asked what would ultimately determine what factors would help her decide on a location for her residency, Jumoke Ogundare, who was visiting UAB considering a residency in pediatric medicine, expressed her appreciation for the reception and articulated a sentiment echoed by several other trainee applicants.

“A lot of people create graphs, listing the things that are the most important to them,” she said. “But after doing this for a few months, I can tell you that many of the programs offer a lot of the same things. So for me, I’m going to be asking myself –are these the sort of people I want to work with, are these good people, people I want to see every day? Are these people I see as colleagues, people I want to learn with and develop with?”