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Celebrating Diversity Dinner Honors Strides Being Made at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in the Fight Against Health Disparities

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

 Master of Ceremonies Otha Myles, MD, Class of 1998, Dr. Stewart and Dean Reece

The University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM ) held its sixth annual Celebrating Diversity reception and dinner on Saturday, February 9, 2013 at the Marriott Inner Harbor at Camden Yards. The event was attended by 225 guests, who gathered to honor the strides made in diversity at the School of Medicine, recognize those who have helped elevate the School’s diversity profile, and to raise money for the Dean Emeritus Donald E. Wilson Endowed Scholarship fund and other UMSOM diversity scholarships that provide financial assistance to minority students.

“Tonight we are celebrating the successful strides that the University of Maryland School of Medicine has made concerning diversity throughout its more than 200-year history, and to affirm the values of diversity to which we remain committed,” said E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean of the School of Medicine. “This institution recognizes and reinforces the positive impact that takes place in a healthy and robust environment of diversity. We are committed to recruiting and retaining talented, culturally diverse faculty, staff, trainees and students.  Indeed, our goal as a medical school is to advance knowledge and skills that will be of great benefit to our city, state and across the nation. “

To that end, Dean Reece has been working closely with the lieutenant governor to establish Health Enterprise Zones (HEZs) throughout the state of Maryland to combat these disparities. Five HEZs were recently approved and funded by the State Legislature, including one in West Baltimore, just blocks from campus. The hope is that some of our medical students will go on to work in these underserved areas after graduation and residency, in exchange for loan repayment assistance.

One of those students may be Novlette Akinseye from the Class of 2013, who spoke at the dinner about how important her scholarships have been to her medical education and how much she has learned about diversity during her four years as a medical student in Baltimore. “I have gone to several of the high schools in the area to speak to students about entering the medical profession,” she said. “In speaking with them, I have learned that many come from broken families or living situations that are less than ideal. I remember one student telling me that she wanted to be a pediatrician. I suggested she email me to talk more about her career goals and dreams, but she told me she did not have access to a computer. As I spoke to more students, this was a common theme. These are things we take for granted, things we assume our patients have. Not until we start to understand the community around us, can we then begin to understand our patients.”

David Stewart, MD, associate professor and chair of the Department of Family & Community Medicine, is one of those who has mastered the understanding of his patient population. In recognition of his work in the area of health disparities, he received the inaugural Dean’s Faculty Award for Diversity and Inclusion. “The purpose of this award is to recognize a SOM faculty member for his or her extraordinary work advancing diversity and inclusion throughout the field of medical education, both here at the School of Medicine and throughout the United States,” said Dean Reece. “There is no one more deserving of this honor than David. He has proven his dedication and commitment to improvement of health care disparities throughout his more than 25 years at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He has unselfishly committed himself to administrative service to the School of Medicine and to promoting equity in health care. He has worked tenaciously to recruit and retain a diverse faculty. Dr. Stewart is also passionate about his patients and has been an exemplary role model for all faculty, residents and students.”

Following the presentation of Dr. Stewart’s award, a keynote speech was given by Jordan Cohen, MD, president emeritus of the Association of American Medical Colleges and chairman of the board of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation for Humanism in Medicine, who spoke highly of the progress the University of Maryland School of Medicine has made in promoting diversity.

Numerous current and even prospective School of Medicine students were able to attend the diversity event thanks to the generosity of the event's presenting sponsor, the Medical Alumni Association of the University of Maryland, Inc. The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company was a Gold Sponsor. Banks Construction, Mahogany, Inc., and Associated Black Charities served as Silver Sponsors. Table sponsors were the Departments of Emergency Medicine, Family & Community Medicine, Neurology, Neurosurgery, Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Services, Orthopaedics, Radiation Oncology, and Surgery; the Institute of Human Virology; the Program in Trauma; Dr. Yvette Rooks; the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Canter; and the University of Maryland Medical Center.

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 Michael Cryor, Chairman of the School of Medicine's Board of Visitors, was one of the guest speakers at the event.

 Novlette Akinseye shared the lessons she's learned in health diversity in her four years here at the School of Medicine.

 Jordan Cohen, MD, president emeritus of the AAMC, was a featured speaker.

 The evening raised money for a scholarship named in honor of Dean Emeritus Donald E. Wilson, MD.

 The Family Medicine family came out in support of their leader, Dr. Stewart.

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