Our College of Medicine community,
Every facet of our collective, day-to-day lives has been, and continues to be, affected by racism. Therefore, we must continue to stand against racism and xenophobia in action and language. At the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, we acknowledge the existence of stereotyping, bias, discrimination, prejudice, microaggressions, and other forms of racism and xenophobia. The cost of racism, both structural and interpersonal, on the mental and physical health of racially minoritized groups is incalculable and fundamentally antithetical to the moral responsibility of health professionals.
As healers and educators of the next generation of physicians and scientists, it is not enough to say we will “do no harm.” We cannot remain committed to educating, training, and producing highly qualified and caring physicians to serve all the people of Kentucky and the nation without recognizing the systemic racism in our nation and health care systems and working to dismantle it.
In his campus message yesterday, President Capilouto asked the entire campus to recommit to creating a community of belonging for everyone. He further stated that we must hold each other accountable as we take steps together. As such, we want to provide an update on our college efforts, institutional partnerships, and an upcoming community forum.
Continued DEI Efforts within the College
We commit to doing all we can to eliminate racism and its impacts within our organization, communities, and state. As the flagship medical college for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, we are uniquely positioned to influence and work toward this goal and remain committed to living by our values (diversity, innovation, respect, compassion, and teamwork) and being leaders in Kentucky and beyond. We stand with our students, trainees, faculty, and staff in this commitment at all times.
President Capilouto highlighted the work and expansion of college DEI officers. The college commits to the continued engagement in these efforts which is seen in the elevated leadership position for the future vice dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The national search for this position is currently underway. However, we realize this work cannot lie on the shoulders of one person. Our leadership team has committed to incorporate DEI goals into performance evaluations, and we have more than 30 Diversity Ambassadors across the colleges. These individuals operate in our clinical and basic science departments, centers, and educational offices to assist with developing more inclusive and equitable practices.
To advance inclusive excellence, the College of Medicine will continue to offer training and educational opportunities that foster intellectual inquiry and engagement, respectful debate, and civil discourse. The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI) recently launched its Diversity and Inclusion Microlearning Series, which offers informative and evidence-based lessons on various issues related to health equity, diversity, and inclusion. Modules covering implicit bias are planned for the next iteration. Additional anti-racism resources are available on the ODEI website and through the AAMC.
As we intentionally embed diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the college, we are mindful of the spaces used for connection and dialogue. The upcoming Medical Center Library art project reflects upon the checkered history of medicine, depicting both healing and harm done in pursuit of medical advancement. We look forward to the conversations and growth that take place as our community reflects upon the intricate details the artist has embedded within the piece. Opportunities to view the piece and engage in conversation will be announced soon.
In our work to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion and create space for dialogue, we remain committed to upholding the policies and procedures that ensure an environment free of discrimination and harassment. Bias, hate, bigotry and/or identity-based violence will not be tolerated, and incidents of such should be submitted through the Bias Incident Report Form. Complaints of harassment or discrimination can be filed with the Office of Institutional Equity and Equal Opportunity.
Our duty to service does not permit the tolerance of threats, violence, disrespectful communication or harassment from our patients. UK HealthCare’s Patient Rights and Responsibilities policy ensures that our providers and staff know they are valued members of our teams through our words and actions. Hospital operations administrators have been trained to help navigate instances of patient bias or discrimination. Additional mechanisms to report concerns can be found on our website.
Additional resources regarding structural racism and health inequities can be found below:
Support Resources for Our Community
The well-being of our faculty, staff, and learners continues to be a college priority. If you’re experiencing feelings of anxiety, sadness, or uncertainty, or struggling with any aspect of your health and well-being, a range of resources is readily available online or by phone. Staff and faculty can access services through UK Human Resources work life and well being. Students have access to services through the UK Counseling Center.
For students, learn more about UK resources here.
If you need to talk with a mental health clinician after business hours or on the weekend, during holidays or during university closings, you can call 859-257-8701, select option #1, and you will be connected to a clinician.
Mental health clinicians are available through Let’s Talk at the MLK Center, 12:30-2:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. Drop-ins are welcome; no appointment needed.
Mental health conversations are accessible through Talkspace, free of charge for UK students. Accessible from any smartphone phone or computer, using Talkspace comes with a number of perks including: unlimited texting with your therapist between sessions, ability to send audio and video notes to a therapist, 33% of therapists are of color, 32% of therapists identify as LGBTQ+, 27 languages represented in the therapist network.
College of Medicine medical students, graduate students, residents, and fellows have access to our in-house Psychologist, Jamie Hopkins, and to The Woodland Group.
Thank you for all you do,
Charles Griffith, MD, MSPH
Dean, College of Medicine