Maithilee Menezes, MD, is spearheading improvements to the Department of Otolaryngology’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Initiative. To prepare for her role as officer of Equity & Inclusion, which includes launching major curriculum changes and developing a dedicated committee, Menezes completed Equity Champion training through the Washington University School of Medicine Office of DEI. Equity Champions receive professional development to support their competency in leading discussions and training around anti-racism culture within their department.
A pediatric otolaryngologist, Menezes shares her vision for how the department can more fully embrace equity, inclusion and belonging.
Tell us about this initiative. What are your goals?
Our hope (Dr. Buchman, myself, and others), is to strongly increase our department’s diversity, understanding, and awareness, and to ultimately tangibly improve our culture.
I know that seems rather broad—this is not meant to be a single or short-term effort, but one that builds on current efforts to amplify and strengthen what is here, and to do more.
Unfortunately, the medical profession does not accurately reflect all members of our society equally, as we know all too well. Our hope is that our department comes to reflect the beauty and the myriad of faces in healthcare.
In addition to increasing diversity within the department, another goal is to uncover different ways to improve access to healthcare, starting with increasing our cultural humility as well as competency when interacting with patients from all walks of life.
What are some of our current/ongoing departmental efforts for inclusion and diversity?
Some early efforts can be seen in the makeup of faculty, of which women represent 46%. But that’s only an early effort.
Currently, multiple members of the department are actively involved in several efforts including:
- Ongoing research in social determinants of health/ affecting head and neck outcomes
- Launch of Equity, Inclusion & Belonging Committee
- Support for visiting under-represented medical students in the form of grants to help defray the cost of housing
Additionally, we are working with the Office of DEI to roll out the Understanding Systemic Racism (USR) curriculum for our residents and faculty. This renewed curriculum, which is under development by a School of Medicine team, will help learners develop tools and strategies to further the work of anti-racism, inclusion, equity and diversity.
We welcome volunteers and active involvement from all areas of the department, including residents, nurses, faculty, researchers, and staff. The more people involved, the more success we will have in bringing forth new ideas and continuing ongoing work.
If you would like to be involved in any way, or have suggestions, please contact Maithilee Menezes, MD, at email@example.com .