A key initiative in our Strategic Plan is to attract, engage, develop and retain the world’s best people. In the Johns Hopkins Department of Surgery, our goal is to develop a surgical workforce that is representative of the local, regional, national and international communities that it serves. We aim to enhance the diversity of our surgical faculty members, residents and fellows not just for diversity’s sake, but to create a workplace of choice.
According to the Institute of Medicine’s report “In the Nation’s Compelling Interest,” diversity enriches academic medicine with new insights and perspectives. Diversity also makes for better health care, reducing patient safety risks and boosting innovation. Health care can’t be delivered efficiently or equitably without a diverse student body or groups of residents and faculty members that are representative of the community they serve.
Nationwide, racial disparities have limited the access to care for underrepresented minorities and undermined efforts to create a representative medical workforce. African-Americans make up 13 percent of the nation’s population but consist of only 4 percent of the country’s physicians, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). In addition, the AAMC finds the annual number of African-American male applicants to medical school dropped from 1,410 in 1978 to 1,337 in 2014.
Among many contributing factors are poor K-12 schools, few role models, negative perceptions of African-American males and the cost of higher education, according to the AAMC report. Reversing this trend, the report concluded, depends on responsive leadership, retooled admission policies, programs for aspiring minority physicians and stronger community engagement.
As the William Stewart Halsted Professor of Surgery and the surgeon-in-chief of The Johns Hopkins Hospital, I look forward to partnering with leaders of The Johns Hopkins Hospital, The Johns Hopkins University, and local and regional communities. The goal is to develop inclusive programs for patient care, research and education so we will continue to distinguish Johns Hopkins Medicine as the surgical provider of choice throughout the region and beyond.