January 30, 2015

AAMC’s Nivet visits, speaks at UAB

Written by
MarcNivet small“There is nothing inherently good about diversity.”

In an unexpected opening statement at Medical Grand Rounds on January 21, Marc A. Nivet, Ed.D., MBA, chief diversity officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges, challenged the audience to disrupt their routine thinking about diversity and its role in advancing academic medicine.

“In fact, just look around at what’s happening across the globe. When you force different people together, different cultures, different religions, different ethnicities, nothing good happens automatically,” Nivet continued. To capitalize on differences, an institution needs a culture of inclusion to fuel the diversity and channel it in a positive direction.

As chief diversity officer, Nivet travels across the United States and Canada to engage academic institutions on this issue. He points out that it is important to move beyond diversity for diversity’s sake, to envision the intended outcomes of diversifying the student body, faculty, and staff. “If an institution believes diversity should increase access to high quality health care services, how could that be specifically measured and reported?” Nivet asked. “One method could be adding a question to patient satisfaction surveys such as, ‘I received culturally competent, linguistically competent health care today,’ and looking at the data over the course of a year to see what is changing.”

Nivet also recommended thinking more broadly about how to impact diversity, looking beyond campus borders at the K-12 educational pipeline that feeds the academic enterprise. He points to Johns Hopkins recent outreach in Baltimore, Maryland, that rewrote the science curriculum, giving students better access to up-to-date material and creating a vital partnership in the community.