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Diversity Champions: For faculty dermatologists


Dermatology faculty members play a critical role in improving diversity in dermatology. Faculty members are responsible for selecting the next generation of dermatologists. Use of the strategies included in the Diversity Champion Toolkit by faculty members is likely to result in a more diverse dermatology workforce. 


Diversity Champion Alex Ortega, MD, FAAD

Alex Ortega, MD, FAAD, assistant professor of dermatology at Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine is the faculty sponsor for the first medical Spanish elective sponsored by a medical school in the United States.


Step one: Discuss goals of the dermatology residency selection process and develop a mission statement with the department chair and faculty members. This statement should include diversity as a goal. 

Step two: Meet with the Dean of Diversity in your medical school to discuss current programs to support underrepresented-in-medicine (UIM) medical students as well as outreach programs to local colleges and schools.

Step three: Develop a diversity committee in your department consisting of faculty members who are committed to improving diversity. 

Step four: Discuss the current opportunities at the medical school to improve diversity.

Step five: Discuss the items in the Diversity Champion Toolkit and how they can be implemented at your medical school and surrounding community.

Step six: Develop a budget for these activities and a plan to acquire the resources to cover these costs. 

Step seven: Recruit faculty, community dermatologists, medical students, college students and other individuals to help you implement the strategies included in the toolkit.

Step eight: Implement activities in the toolkit and develop ways to measure their impact.

Step nine: Report the activities in your medical school and their impact to the AAD Diversity Task Force.

Outreach ideas

Sumayah Taliaferro, MD, FAAD, working with first year medical students at Morehouse University at a dermatology bioskill workshop.

  • Dermatology faculty member could join the admissions committee of the medical school to help improve diversity among medical students. Suggest that the committee consider giving merit to non-traditional criteria, such as obstacles overcome, distance traveled, cultural competence, likelihood to practice in an underserved area, and interpersonal intelligence. Present the new Advancing Holistic Review Model by the AAMC and the Making Caring Common project by Harvard.

  • Dermatology faculty could provide data to admissions committee members, dermatology department members, and other leaders in their medical school showing improved health outcomes when patients receive culturally competent care and when the health care provider workforce is diverse. This data can be found in multiple publications.

  • Develop a Diversity Committee in the dermatology department.

  • Dermatology department could consider bringing in nationally known speakers to talk about race and health.

  • Department could incorporate unconscious bias training for dermatology faculty, particularly those involved in residency and fellow interviews and screening of applicants.

  • Consider increased outreach to UIM applicants through double-review of their applications, explicit messaging in the recruitment process, extra communication with UIM candidates before and during the interview process, and extra information on minority opportunities and minority affairs in UIM candidate packets during interviews.

  • Develop a second-look program to bring UIM candidates back to the department of dermatology for another visit and a meeting with the diversity committee.

  • Send a department representative to the national meetings for MAPS, LMSA, and SNMA to convey information about dermatology and the AAD.

  • Provide your medical school and other regional medical schools, SNMA, and LMSA chapters with a list of UIM faculty from your dermatology department that are willing to serve as a mentor and to discuss dermatology as a career and the application process for residency.

  • Develop stipends to allow UIM high school students to conduct summer research in dermatology laboratories.

Mentoring ideas

Moses Elam, MD, FAAD, working with first year medical students at Morehouse University at a dermatology bioskill workshop.

  • Become a mentor for the Diversity Mentorship program.

  • Participate in mentorship programs sponsored by the Skin of Color Society, Women’s Dermatological Society, and other groups for students from diverse backgrounds.

  • Participate in a mentorship program made up of medical school faculty for UIM medical students to guide them during medical school, especially during the first year.

    • Talk to them before their first major test and after subsequent major tests.

    • Meet them for lunch or dinner routinely to support, encourage and walk alongside them during this stressful time.

    • Guide them toward tutoring services, counseling, and upper-level students when necessary.

    • Help to develop a “Gotcha Covered” program at their medical school. This is where a minority faculty member is assigned a minority student as soon as they arrive to medical school.

  • Serve with students at a free dermatology clinic on a routine basis and get them involved in dermatology. This is often how UIM students who are on the fence regarding dermatology ultimately decide on dermatology as a career, when they see how dermatologic illnesses greatly impact the poor and marginalized individuals in our society.

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