Diversity awareness key to educating medical students
Sept. 4, 2014
By Kathryn Kennedy
ECU News Services
Sept. 8: “Why Sickle Cell Disease is a Disparities Disease,” noon-1 p.m., Brody Building, room 2W-50. Lunch is free for the first 50 attendees.
Other Resources for Students
- American Medical Women’s Association
- Association of Native American Medical Students
- Brody Gay-Straight Alliance
- Christian Medical & Dental Association
- Latino Medical Student Association
- Spanish in Medicine
- Student National Medical Association
In the midst of receiving white coats and reciting pledges, another important message was delivered to medical students arriving at East Carolina University this fall: Diversity is valued at the Brody School of Medicine.
“Diversity is all of us,” Assistant Dean of Diversity Affairs Dr. Todd Savitt told first-year students during orientation in August. “We all comprise diversity. What you see on the surface is only part of (who we are).”
The Office of Diversity Affairs, staffed by Savitt and Diversity Coordinator Chanel Arrington, relocated this summer to the first floor of Brody in an effort to be more accessible to the students they serve.
“When you walk off the elevator, you see us,” said Savitt who is also a professor of bioethics and interdisciplinary studies. “We’re right there.”
They host lunch-and-learn events throughout the year and offer food during study breaks while exams are underway. They coordinate the Safe Zone Program training that is designed to increase understanding and awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.
Perhaps most importantly, the cultural competency their programming encourages is essential to the practice of medicine.
“Communicating in an effective manner – especially in cross-cultural interactions – can have a strong impact on the doctor-patient encounter,” said Dr. Virginia Hardy, vice chancellor of student affairs at ECU. Hardy spent 16 years at the Brody School of Medicine prior to her current post.