Supporting Inclusive Learning Environments and Professional Development in Medical Education Through an Identity and Inclusion Initiative

Acad Med. 2020 Sep 1. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000003689. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

In 2015, the Pritzker School of Medicine experienced increasing student interest in the changing sociopolitical landscape of the United States and the interaction of these events with student and patient identity. To address this interest, an Identity and Inclusion Steering Committee was formed and formally charged with "providing ongoing direction for programs and/or curricula at Pritzker that support an inclusive learning environment and promote respectful and effective communication with diverse patients and colleagues around issues of identity." The authors describe this committee's structure and steps taken by the committee to create an inclusive community of students at Pritzker characterized by learning through civil discourse. Initiatives were guided by a strategy of continuous quality improvement consisting of regular iterative evaluation, ongoing school-wide engagement, and responsiveness to issues and concerns as they emerged. Data collected over the committee's four-year existence demonstrate significant improvement in students' sense of inclusion and respect for different perspectives on issues related to identity, such as access to health care, racialized medicine, safe spaces, and nursing labor strikes. The authors discuss several principles that support the development of an inclusive community of students as well as challenges to the implementation of such programming. They conclude that a strategy of continuous quality improvement guided by values of social justice, tolerance, and civil discourse can build community inclusion and enhance medical training for the care of diverse patient populations.