“Soaring Toward Change” paper cranes folded by members of the DFMCH in December 2014, marking a departmental commitment to diversity, inclusivity and health equity.

Diversity at the UW Department of Family Medicine and Community Health

Diversity is integral to the mission and vision of the UW Department of Family Medicine and Community Health (DFMCH). We partner with the UW School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH) and UW Health to promote diversity, inclusion and health equity in our own institution. We also collaborate with academic peers nationwide on strategies and models for addressing diversity issues at other institutions.

Since 2015, our department has a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee comprising faculty and staff from the DFMCH, SMPH and UW Health.

We first developed our Mission, Vision, and Strategic Framework “TRUST” in 2015, and revised these in 2022 in partnership with the nINA Collective.

Mission: DFMCH’s DEI committee exists to disrupt and redefine professional culture that is defined by whiteness. We will model a new normal for what academic medicine looks like and how it works in order to promote and practice health equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism.

Vision: Our vision is for DFMCH to be a place where everyone feels engaged, included, and has a sense of belonging; a place that reflects the community we serve at all levels.

Strategic Framework:

TRANSFORMATION: We will create and sustain systems of shared power and equitable allocation of resources that supports health equity, diversity, inclusion, belonging, and anti-racism. Our narrative will be one of transforming professional culture defined by whiteness to one of belonging.

RECRUITING: We will develop and support intentional systems for recruiting and selecting more diverse leadership, faculty, staff, and residents. We will actively identify and support pathways to more diverse clinical, research, and educational teams and leadership.

UNLEARNING AND LEARNING: We will provide access to educational curriculum, tools, and resources that help faculty, staff, and clinical learners to unlearn behaviors and practices that support exclusion and replace these with those that support inclusion and belonging.

SUSTAINING AND RETAINING: We will establish and maintain institutional policies and practices, including systems of mentorship, that support belonging and an inclusive climate for all, especially innovators and champions of inclusion.

TRACKING AND TELLING: We will develop and test clear metrics that help us assess and refine our work. We will share stories and strategies of building trust and shared power to support health equity, diversity, inclusion, belonging, and anti-racism in academic medicine.

We believe that:

  • Social identities such as race, ethnicity, gender, and others are social constructs embedded within a context of unequal power relationships that allow privileged groups to benefit at the expense of marginalized groups.
  • Equity assures justice and fairness for all by addressing systemic biases in policies and practices and assures that health equity drives the culture and actions of the department.
  • Inclusive practices assure that dominant and privileged voices are decentralized to create full and equal participation and access for all groups.
  • Bringing a healing attention first to our own privileges and unconscious biases allows us to mindfully engage in equity and inclusion work while serving as equity and inclusion leaders for the department.

Black Lives Matter

In 2018 the Wisconsin Public Health Association passed a resolution Racism is a Public Health Crisis in Wisconsin. As employees of UW Health and UW SMPH, we belong to organizations that have signed-on to this declaration.

We must breakdown systemic policies and practices that fuel the current state of affairs and we must do that together with people of color in our own department and in our own communities.  Now is the time to not only invite, but also center the perspective of voices that have not been included at the decision-making tables.

We must take the time to look both outward and inward. Madison-based organization Nehemiah and Justified Anger has created this helpful graphic as a starting point: Racial Justice: What you can do!

Let us actively engage in opportunities to be better, more inclusive, more loving, more forgiving, more just. Let us rise together as a department to strive to become anti-racists.

Jennifer Edgoose and Shelly Shaw
DFMCH Office of Community Health