Challenges and Solutions
The 2019 Celebration of Diversity Week welcomed leaders in academic medicine from across the nation
April 9, 2019—For three consecutive years, the UF College of Medicine’s Celebration of Diversity Week has rallied students, faculty and staff around issues of inclusion and equal representation within all facets of health care. The 2019 iteration of the celebration, held April 1-5, welcomed nationally renowned physicians and scientists like Hannah Valentine, who works to achieve scientific workforce diversity at the National Institutes of Health; alum Sarah Vinson, M.D. ’07, whose work aims to de-stigmatize mental illness among minority communities; and Gae Walters, Ph.D., whose research examines the specific behaviors and attitudes practiced by women who have overcome gendered barriers to leadership positions.
The week kicked off with a Faces of Diversity portrait session in the UF Health Shands Hospital atrium, during which UF emergency medicine physician Giuliano De Portu, M.D., snapped photos of dozens of faculty, students and staff to showcase the diverse identities and backgrounds that make up the UF Health workforce.
After five days of talks from speakers hailing from across the nation and one international lunch of cuisines from around the globe, the week culminated Saturday with the Equal Access Clinic Student-Alumni Health Fair at UF Health Family Medicine—Eastside, where faculty, students and alumni provided health screenings to members of the local community, followed by the Office for Diversity and Health Equity Emerald Ball.
Below are a few impressions from the 2019 UF College of Medicine Celebration of Diversity Week, collected straight from the minds who made this year’s celebration so memorable:
“A lot of people ask me, ‘Why do you keep doing this Diversity Week? You’re preaching to the choir.’ My response is, ‘The choir has to practice.’”
—UF College of Medicine interim dean Joseph A. Tyndall, M.D.
“We started this Celebration of Diversity Week to inform and educate about diversity and inclusion in medicine. By educating our community at the UF College of Medicine and in Gainesville about the value of diversity, we hope we will see better health care practices and that all patients will receive outstanding care.”
—Donna Parker, M.D. ’90, associate dean for diversity and health equity at the UF College of Medicine
“We know that diversity of thoughts and ideas leads to a greater likelihood of solving problems and more creative solutions. Contrary to the old adage, I’d encourage you to think, great minds think differently.”
— Hannah Valantine, M.D., National Institutes of Health chief officer for scientific workforce diversity
“The culture will not change unless the individuals who are part of that culture practice changed behavior daily. Basic actions drive intermediate goals which get us closer to higher-level objectives.”
— Antonio Farias, UF chief diversity officer
“There are two ways to handle adversity: it could harden you and make you cynical, or it could become a motivating factor. As physicians and scientists, we know 90 % of our experiments may fail. We have to be able to take a punch and get back up.”
—Henri Ford, M.D., dean of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
“The biggest challenge for LGBTQIA+ patients is finding health care providers who are not only competent but enthusiastic about providing culturally sensitive care. Even if a provider doesn’t agree with my sexual orientation, gender identity or family lifestyle, I want them to navigate my health relative to my choices. That’s all we ask.”
—Carolyn Holland, M.D., UF Health emergency physician
“I’ve been misgendered many times. The energy required to stand up for yourself and to correct others is exhausting. If you’re in a position of privilege, you can speak up for those with less privilege. Be loudly courageous and courageously loud with your advocacy of the trans community.”
—Emma Moss, UF radiology resident
“I grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut, dubbed the most unequal city in America. So how did I get to where I am today? The key is early and consistent independent research funding and professional development. Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. No opportunity is too small.”
—Dionna Williams, Ph.D, an instructor of molecular and comparative pathobiology and an instructor of medicine at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine