What's Behind Cellular Morphing?
Bloom Gives IOM Crash Course on Public Health
Boning Up on Diversity
Rare Books Settle into New Quarters
New Vaccine Works Better Using Infection-Specific Antigen
Nerve Regrowth Suggests New Research, Therapies
Collaring Suspect Protease Slows HuntingtonŐs in Mice
Toy Muscles Linked To Harmful Image of Male Body
Taming T Cells May Enlarge the Bone Marrow Donor Pool
Faculty Council Hears On-line Issues
Fourth Annual A. Clifford Barger Lecture
Faculty Awards for Excellence in Teaching
Honors and Advances
Future Discussed, Past Honored in Affirmative Action Program
Minority Grads Have Aspired to Give More than Good Medicine
Boning Up on Diversity
Report Raises Issues About Underrepresentation in Orthopedics
Orthopedics has a reputation as a "happy
field" in which patients' bones can be set, joints replaced, and
cures achieved. The somber side is that orthopedics may be one of
the most exclusive of medical subspecialties, with few minorities
and women admitted to residency programs. Historically, heads of
orthopedic departments, who have been almost entirely white men,
have shown little motivation to change the status quo.
|Augustus White says
diversity in residency programs depends largely on the program
"A lot of well meaning, intelligent males who
are in power don't have any reason to have diversity on their radar
screen or to think about it at all," says Augustus White III, HMS
professor of orthopedic surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess. A new
publication by White and his colleagues may help to change that.
The report, which appears in the May Clinical Orthopaedics and
Related Research, not only draws attention to the widespread
racial and gender underrepresentation that exists in orthopedicsfrom
a historical and personal point of viewbut also provides reasons
why it is bad for the health of the field and, ultimately, for patients.
In addition to meeting ethical and legal standards, hiring more
minorities could improve orthopedic practice in several ways.
To begin, minorities tend to make good clinicians,
a point made by contributor Alvin Poussaint, HMS clinical professor
of psychiatry at Judge Baker Children's Center. They tend to exhibit
sensitivity to the suffering of patients, he says, possibly because
they have had to overcome adversity in their own lives. But the
inclusion of African Americans and other minorities also promotes
empathy among residents of different backgrounds, which enhances
rapport between them and their increasingly diverse patient populations.
In fact, health care facilities with diverse
staffs are more likely to attract a greater variety and number of
patients, adding an economic incentive to the mix.
But White is convinced it will not happen until department chiefs
wake up to the need. "One thing I strongly believe is that if the
chief wants to have a diverse program, there will be a diverse program.
If the chief doesn't want a diverse program, you can throw all the
money at it, all the politics, you can put it on the front page
of the newspaper, but there is not going to be a diverse program,"
A Rocky Career Path
The report grew out of a half-day "consciousness-raising" symposium
held a year ago at the annual meeting of the Academic Orthopedic
Society, which draws many heads of academic departments. Because
the society had previously hosted a symposium on women and orthopedics,
White and his colleagues decided to focus on minorities. Contributors,
nine of whom are HMS alumni and faculty, presented papers on the
history and current state of discrimination. Some described their
personal struggles as minorities making their way in the field.
Others described the need for more open-minded practices in assessing
a residency candidate's potential clinical success. Joan Reede,
HMS assistant professor of medicine and associate dean for faculty
development and diversity, described research showing that Medical
College Admission Test scores and grades do not predict the quality
of a physician, though they may predict grades in basic sciences
during the first two years of medical school.
Driving home the raison d'être of the symposium,
Claudia Thomas, the first African-American board-certified female
orthopedist in the country, showed how the number of women and minorities
in her department at Johns Hopkins increased dramatically because
of a single department head's commitment to increase diversity.
White plans to republish the symposium proceedings
as a separate report and distribute it to deans of major medical
schools, heads of orthopedic departments, and other medical institutions.
He is optimistic that it will have an impact. "Already there's been
an extremely supportive response among the leadership of the profession
to meeting this challengeto making orthopedics more inclusive
of women and minorities, " he says.
Future Discussed, Past Honored in Affirmative Action
Lisa Green, HMS Media
Soler and Harold Amos receive the Medical School's
first diversity awards.
The May 24 program, "Reaffirming the Affirmative: A
Recommitment of 30 Years of Affirmative Action at Harvard
Medical School," brought William Julius Wilson to campus
and debuted the HMS faculty and staff diversity awards.
In his keynote talk, Wilson, the Lewis P. and
Linda L. Geyser University Professor at the Kennedy
School, answered those critics of affirmative action
who call for a shift from race-based programs to ones
based on economic class. He said research suggests that
class-based affirmative action would fail to attain
diversity. He urged instead the development of "flexible
merit-based criteria" that would gauge individuals'
potential to succeed, expand the pool of qualified applicants,
and result in "affirmative opportunity."
The two new awards that were announced, the Harold
Amos Faculty Diversity Award and the Staff Diversity
Award went, respectively, to Harold Amos, the Maude
and Lillian Presley professor emeritus of microbiology
and molecular genetics, and Rosa Soler, associate director
of recruitment and multicultural affairs.
Honored doubly by the faculty awardhaving
it named in his honor and being the first recipientAmos
has worked to increase diversity at HMS since joining
the faculty in 1955. Since then, he has volunteered
with the Macy Foundation, the NIH, and other institutions
in efforts to support biomedical education for underrepresented
minorities. He has been a member since 1983, and for
a period the director, of the Minority Medical Faculty
Development Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Soler, a member of the Office of Recruitment
and Multicultural Affairs for five years, was cited
for her "enormous sense of work ethic and commitment
to increasing the diversity at Harvard, and her steadfastness
in holding onto the intent of the faculty, students,
and staff who were responsible for initiating affirmative
action 30 years ago."