Modern Healthcare GraphicIn crafting Modern Healthcare’s cover story “Racism still a problem in healthcare’s C-suite”, reporter Shelby Livingston spent almost two hours speaking with a diverse group of students from the UAB School of Health ProfessionsExecutive Master of Science in Health Administration program.

The conversation between Livingston and the students who are working as clinicians and leaders in health care from around the country was open and lively, but most of all – it was honest. The students spoke without fear about their personal experiences, in part because they have spent time together in UAB’s cohort model of executive graduate education in health administration and have been learning about leadership together.

“Diversity and inclusion – in particular, assessing our biases and having difficult, often uncomfortable conversations about topics such as race are essential for leaders in health care today,” said Christy Harris Lemak, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Health Services Administration and instructor for the leadership course the students were taking when the Modern Healthcare reporter visited. “This year, the conversation was particularly emotional - for the students of color and other students who realized for the first time the barriers some of their classmates face every day.”

For example, EMSHA student Wardrick Griffin, assistant chief practice officer at Gadsden (Ala.) Regional Medical Center said, "We're not to a comfortable place where I can have that kind of real discussion at my work environment without some repercussions in some form or fashion, which makes us uncomfortable to speak our truth." The classroom provided the chance to speak openly and learn from others.

“We have recently taken steps to directly address issues of diversity and inclusion through imbedding these topics within our MSHA curriculum," said Amy Landry, Ph.D., program director of the Master of Science in Health Administration program. "We are working directly with Deborah Grimes, the Chief Diversity Officer of UAB Health System, to ensure our students are getting the training they need to become effective leaders in today’s health system.”

The article discusses challenges today and also delves into the future and finds “pockets of progress.”

Tomorrow’s leaders are being trained at UAB to have meaningful conversations and ultimately, make a significant impact in the healthcare industry.

"If we talk about how to make it better; it's people in leadership roles who come through this program and hear about this experience and try to make it better for people who are coming along," said Kimberly Payne, an MSHA student and associate vice president of ambulatory services at UAB Health System.

Click here to read Modern Healthcare’s “Racism still a problem in healthcare’s C-suite”.