Editor's note: This article has been edited from its original version. 

For the third time, INSIGHT into Diversity magazine has recognized the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine with its Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award. The HEED award is a national honor given to U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.

The school will be featured, along with 42 other recipients, in the December issue of the magazine.

“Our commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion is front and center of all that we do here at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine,” said Dean Lee Learman. “While it’s an honor to be recognized, our work is never done in this arena. We are continually looking for ways to create meaningful partnerships to reach communities that are traditionally underrepresented in the health professions.”

Over the past eight years, the school has made deliberate strides in increasing its diversity. Nine percent of enrolled students are of an ethnic or racial minority, and nearly half of the most recently entered class belong to groups that are underrepresented in medicine. In addition, nearly 25 percent are considered low income, and 16 percent are the first in their family to attend college.

The Health Professions Enrichment Program, a diversity initiative started by the school in 2017, offers educational outreach programs to high-potential 10th graders in the Roanoke area who are passionate about science and health-related careers. Building upon its success, the program has expanded this year to include students in Martinsville and Danville.

For the third year in a row, students have led a #VTCUnfinished diversity discussion, which encourages conversations that are unfinished or not yet started. The year’s event focused on obstacles that refugee and immigrant families face once they enter the United States, as well as the community efforts in place to help overcome these obstacles.

Another Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine initiative is its Lunch and Learn events that are open to employees, students, faculty, and the community. These monthly programs focus on issues related to diversity, inclusion, civility, and social justice. Last year’s six Lunch and Learn programs drew an average of 45 participants.

“Our Lunch and Learn series provides a structured curriculum to allow faculty and staff to strengthen their diversity competencies and positively influence the working and learning environments at VTCSOM,” said Karyna Nevarez, inclusion coordinator at the school.

Each year the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine hosts students from the Achievable Dream Middle and High School in Newport News. Medical students work with the younger ones introducing them to such concepts as anatomy, ultrasound technology, and mock patient exams.

“Having a diverse and welcoming community makes us all stronger,” said Karen Eley Sanders, chief diversity officer for the medical school and associate vice provost for college access at Virginia Tech. “I’m proud of VTCSOM’s commitment to celebrating individual differences, and I look forward to the strides we will continue to make in the future.”

INSIGHT is the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. Considerations for the HEED award include continued leadership support for diversity and examples of institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being done every day across campus.



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