The University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine (Mizzou Med) said that it didn’t participate in the Association of American Medical Colleges’ (AAMC) Diversity, Inclusion, Culture, and Equity (DICE) Inventory, but its devotion to all things DEI raise the question of “why not?”
The DICE Inventory is an 89-question survey that 101 North American medical schools participated in during 2022. Institutions voluntarily submitted their yes/no answers to AAMC, indicating whether or not they engage in specific DEI-related initiatives, programs, or practices. Last year, Do No Harm submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to Mizzou Med for the school’s DICE Inventory response, but the Custodian of Records for the University of Missouri System told us, “I am informed there is no document responsive to your request.”
A follow-up query confirmed that Laura Henderson Kelley MD, MPH advised that no such document exists. Board certified in internal medicine and pediatrics, Dr. Henderson Kelley carries the title of “Associate Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, Culture, and Equity (DICE),” and leads the school’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI).
Yet Mizzou Med follows the AAMC on other DEI-related concepts.
The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Cluster document, received by Dr. Henderson Kelley in March 2022, further illustrates Mizzou Med’s dedication to the AAMC’s guidance on DEI. The document, supported by Dr. David Acosta, AAMC’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, provides direction “to assist you with the DEI work at your institutions.” The Cluster document includes “three portfolios” of Equity and Social Accountability (ESA); Workforce Diversity; and Organizational Inclusion and Development. For example, the Cluster document notes that the ESA Portfolio will help medical schools to become “anti-racist leaders who acknowledge and understand systemic racial inequities,” as well as adopting policies “that promote racial justice and equity.”
As reported in April, Mizzou Med provided its Class of 2024 orientees with the Common Read program “to facilitate meaningful conversations around health inequities and social injustice early in medical school education.” This aligns with the ESA Portfolio’s aims to “develop an emerging generation of physicians with an equity mindset” and “encourage the inclusion of anti-racism” in the curriculum. This conviction was readily apparent during the 2023 legislative season when 150 students at the medical school demanded that state lawmakers “protect our school’s right to require DEI education.”
The Class of 2024 was also informed by Steven Zweig MD, dean of medical school, that their newly received white coats symbolize “a commitment to fighting racism in medicine.”
The Mizzou Med Class of 2024 is also aligned with the AAMC’s Workforce Diversity Portfolio aim of increasing the numbers of students “who are underrepresented in the health professions,” and prepared an infographic to illustrate it. AAMC recommends holding career fairs and workshops for “diversifying the next generation of doctors” or participating in the “Action Collaborative for Black Men in Medicine” to achieve that metric. The university has long shown that it fosters discrimination on the basis of race with scholarships it offers within the School of Medicine. The Office for Civil Rights is currently investigating Mizzou Med for ten scholarships that violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits such discrimination.
But the Cluster document’s most concerning recommendations come from the Organizational Inclusion and Development Portfolio, as it recommends actions for “equity-minded medical schools” that infuse the DEI agenda into every corner of their operations.
A new six-session faculty course titled “Addressing and Reducing Cultural Bias in Medicine” was recently sponsored by Mizzou Med, featuring instruction on “medical racism” and “privilege, implicit bias, and microaggressions.” The topics in this course demonstrate how the school aligns with initiatives recommended by the AAMC in the Cluster document, such as the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Anti-racism (IDEAs) Learning Series and the Restorative Justice in Academic Medicine (RJAM) training program.
These concepts do not reflect what it means to receive an education in the art and science of medicine. Do No Harm calls on Mizzou Med to return its focus to the patient-based training it claims to offer, which is in the best interests of the individuals its graduates who will one day be responsible for diagnosing and healing.
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