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Dome - Another kind of health care advice

March 2012

Another kind of health care advice

Date: March 5, 2012

Visiting diversity professor: Lessons from the community

Visiting diversity professor Keith Norris

When it came to addressing health care disparities among the more disadvantaged communities in Los Angeles, Keith Norris took an unusual approach.

The executive vice president for research and health affairs at the Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science hired—as faculty—community members with expertise in such areas as HIV/AIDS, and drug and alcohol addiction. He charged them with educating medical trainees and clinicians about these health care issues.

Norris spoke about this novel community partnership to department leaders and under-represented minority faculty and researchers at the Johns Hopkins Department of Medicine’s ninth annual Visiting Diversity Professor Lecture.

“We have a society where chronic diseases are predominant and the social determinants of health are the main drivers of poor outcomes,” Norris said. “But we do not have a medical education approach to teaching about those issues in a very tangible way.”

Norris, who is internationally recognized for his research on health disparities and chronic kidney disease, has recruited 11 individuals over the past year, many of whom also work for local nonprofits and governmental agencies. Now community faculty members are leading classes for medical and graduate students and teaming up with their clinical counterparts to research health disparities. Each is subject to the same appointments, promotions and evaluations as their peers.

The recent lecture and dinner was sponsored by the School of Medicine’s Office of Diversity and Cultural Competence. The Visiting Professorship is just one of many initiatives organized by the Department of Medicine’s Diversity Council, a group that tirelessly has led the enterprise in recruitment of women and minority professors over the past decade.

Attendee Christian Bime, a third-year pulmonary and critical care clinical fellow, says events like the diversity lecture and dinner make him feel like a part of the Hopkins family. “As a minority, it’s inspiring to see successful role models like Dr. Norris,” Bime added.

—Shannon Swiger