This week in our AGA Community Roundtable, Bridging the Gap: Where are we in Achieving Diversity and Inclusion in Gastroenterology, our experts have been discussing strategies and efforts to help achieve diversity and inclusion in our field.
Below is a preview of the discussion taking place. We encourage you to post your questions for our panelists and follow along with the conversation by clicking “Follow” to receive email updates from the Roundtable. The roundtable will end Sunday, Feb. 21, 11:59 p.m. EST.
How can we recruit and retain a diverse work force in gastroenterology? – Ibironke Oduyebo, MD
“Diversity in gastroenterology has been a challenge! One approach that we have had is to encourage diversity in the pipeline at our medical school. That starts with encouraging URM medical students to be in involved in our GI electives and clinics. Our GI faculty have been active with URM students. We (especially our chief of GI) have supported SNMA and other URM projects. We have served on the house staff selection committee in medicine with goal of encouraging and monitoring for diversity and inclusion. If residents express interest in GI, we quickly partner them with one of our faculty. Once on the house staff, then we can then foster an interest in GI. We have had vibrant group of URM residents who have chosen GI. Some have stayed in our program, but we are happy if they are in GI anywhere. It is a complex and ongoing process. Our department of medicine has for some years had minority recruitment and retention committee that has worked tirelessly. GI division has been one of the most active participants.”
“There are several challenges to increasing the representation of physicians who are underrepresented in medicine (UIM) in gastroenterology. I will focus on one aspect. We have to begin with the end in mind and recognize that our efforts to increase UIM in GI must begin with increasing access of UIM students to medical school. I spend more of my professional and personal time trying to help young students of color to see themselves as physicians than I ever will spend trying to convince them to pursue GI. The “leaky” pipeline starts with disparate science and math education well before college, with a disproportionate drop-off during the college years in UIM students’ commitment to medical school. We must commit ourselves to be the village of encouragers, mentors, strategists, advocates, and letter writers that high school and premed students need. Don’t underestimate the power of cheerleaders, confidantes, consultants, and counselors! There are many ways to encourage students aiming for medicine: volunteer to sponsor students in your lab; allow them to shadow you in clinic; support minority science training programs with your time and your money; share your professional journey with the premed society or MAPS chapter at your local college/university or your alma mater. Leadership in the GI societies, the face of GI, also needs to be much more inclusive. No matter your racial/ethnic background or work affiliation, you can be a vocal advocate and an ally to encourage your practice, GI division, department of medicine, and/or medical school to be anti-racist and inclusive. Your personal commitment to inclusion will be a powerful example to the students and trainees we hope to attract.”