Unlocking the power of diversity for organizational performance improvement
March 12, 2012

In today’s heated confluence of social, economic, legislative and judicial upheaval, the spotlight is hot on diversity, especially around the value it brings to educational and organizational settings. In a recent commentary, Diversity 3.0: A Necessary Systems Upgrade, I offer my perspective on the evolution of diversity work in Academic Medicine. I describe a vision for the future in which diversity is embraced as a vital component of institutional excellence, and organizations which do not successfully diversify fall short of optimal performance.

Specific to the realm of health care, an organization that lacks a critical mass of diversity loses a valuable source of insight into the community and patients they serve. These insights may mean the difference in institutional margins as quality metrics that are tied to payments and reimbursements are phased in. Seen in this light, a workforce that understands the social context surrounding the delivery and receipt of healthcare can make more effective use of institutional resources through culturally-competent research and patient care.

At the Association of American Medical Colleges, a leading voice and advocate for increased medical student and faculty diversity, we are actively engaging to build the capacity of the nation's medical schools and teaching hospitals to move diversity from a ‘peripheral problem’ to a ‘core solution’. We are witnessing great progress as our institutions shift their strategies to better capture, leverage, and respond to the rich diversity of human talents and aptitudes. One prime example is our Holistic Review Project, which is leading the field in a reexamination of prevailing assumptions about the competencies necessary for future physicians. In an attempt to more clearly connect medical school admissions criteria with future practice needs, initiatives are under way to integrate lived experiences, attitudes and personal traits into the existing metrics used to evaluate medical school applicants.

If we are serious as a nation about ending health disparities and increasing the value we receive for our health care spending, then the growing diversity of our society must be front and center, not sidelined. Organizations that understand this and embrace the challenge of creating a culture and climate that welcome and nurture diversity are helping to redefine excellence. We have a long journey ahead of us, but Diversity 3.0 provides a clear road map.

Marc Nivet, Ed.D.

by Marc Nivet, Ed.D.
Chief Diversity Officer
Association of American Medical Colleges


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