FSU College of Medicine recognized for diversity success

The Florida State University College of Medicine has received the 2018 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

The award recognizes U.S. medical, dental, pharmacy, osteopathic, nursing, veterinary, allied health and other health schools demonstrating an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. The College of Medicine, one of 35 health-professions programs honored, also received the award in 2017.

“Diversity is central to our mission,” College of Medicine Dean John P. Fogarty said. “This medical school was created, in part, to produce physicians who will meet health-care needs in communities that have traditionally struggled to provide adequate access to care. In our mission statement, it’s called being responsive to community needs.

“This award really recognizes the fact that we are true to our mission and we are succeeding in producing the physicians Florida — as well as the rest of the U.S. — needs most. That includes our record of producing numerous alumni who now practice in rural parts of the state, especially in Northwest Florida.”

The College of Medicine has developed several pipeline programs successful at bringing more students into medical school from communities underrepresented in the physician workforce. Two of those programs, in particular, have helped to produce physicians now caring for patients in communities that traditionally struggled to recruit new doctors.

SSTRIDE (Science Students Together Reaching Instructional Diversity and Excellence) identifies students as early as the eighth grade who have an aptitude for science and math and the potential to be developed into a successful medical school applicant. The Bridge Program gives applicants from underserved backgrounds, both inner-city and rural, the opportunity to prepare for medical school through a one-year master’s program.

“These pipeline programs were developed to enhance the applicant pool with more qualified candidates who have a significant interest in serving patients where health-care needs are the greatest,” said Kema Gadson, assistant dean for student affairs and diversity. “The College of Medicine has a history of success in meeting our mission, and the outreach programs play an important role in that effort.”

HEED Award institutions were selected based on “recruitment and retention of students and employees — and best practices for both; continued leadership support for diversity; and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion.”

The College of Medicine is the only medical school in the U.S. that places in the Top 10 for enrollment of both black and Hispanic students. Nearly 100 alumni physicians are practicing in the Florida Panhandle, from Perry to Pensacola, caring for a significant number of patients from rural areas.

The FSU College of Medicine and other HEED recipients will be featured in the December issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity.